HMO fire safety guidance - Harlow Council

harlow.gov.uk

HMO fire safety guidance - Harlow Council

HOUSING – FIRE SAFETY

Guidance on fire safety provisions

for certain types of existing housing


Foreword by Communities and Local Government ministers

Fire safety within the home is an extremely important issue, especially

in mixed use premises and where unrelated occupiers, who live

independently from one another, share common areas of the same

building. This area of law is covered by both the Housing Act 2004

and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

We welcome this guidance which helps to manage the relationship

between the Housing Act 2004 and the Fire Safety Order by offering

advice and assistance to enforcers, landlords, managing agents and

tenants, amongst others, on ways to make residential buildings safe

from fire, regardless of which piece of legislation is relevant. When it

comes to fire safety, everyone involved has an interest.

So we would encourage all those with an interest in these types

of premises to read this guidance, ensure they are aware of their

responsibilities to carry out a fire risk assessment, and make sure their

property has adequate and appropriate fire safety measures in place.

Iain Wright MP

Under Secretary of State

with responsibility for housing

Parmjit Dhanda MP

Under Secretary of State with

responsibility for fire safety

housing – fire safety 1


Contents

Acknowledgements

Part A: introduction 4

1. Purpose of guidance 4

2. Scope of this guidance 5

3. Intended readership and layout of the

guidance 6

Part B: fire risk assessment 7

4. Introduction 7

5. What is fire risk assessment? 7

6. Suggested method for carrying out fire

risk assessment 7

Part C: general principals of fire risk reduction 10

7. Introduction 10

8. General fire safety principles 11

9. Escape routes 11

10. Habitable basements 14

11. Unoccupied basements/cellars 14

12. Inner rooms 15

13. Galleries 15

14. Escape windows 16

15. Protected routes/stairs 16

16. Exit doors 18

17. Secondary means of escape 18

18. External stairways 19

19. Fire separation/compartmentation 19

20. Floor/ceiling partitions 21

21. Fire doors 21

22. Automatic fire detection and warning systems

(AFD) 23

23. Lighting of escape routes 26

24. Emergency escape lighting 27

25. Fire fighting equipment (portable) 28

26. Automatic water suppression systems 29

27. Fire safety signage 30

28. Surface finishes 31

29. Floor coverings 32

30. Special provisions relating to back-to-back

houses 32

31. Mixed commercial and residential use 33

32. Management and maintenance of fire

safety 33

Part D: case studies of practical fire safety solutions in

various categories of premises 36

33. Introduction 36

34. Single household occupancy buildings 37

35. Shared houses 39

36. Bedsit-type HMOs (lets) 43

37. Buildings converted into self-contained

flats 46

38. Flats in multiple occupation 49

39. Back-to-back houses 50

Appendix 1: legislation and statutory guidance 52

A.7 The Housing Act 2004: part 1 – housing health

and safety rating system 52

A.31 The Housing Act 2004: part 2 – licensing of

houses in multiple occupation 55

A.45 Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation

Regulations 2006 59

A.51 The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order

2005 59

A.61 The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)

Regulations 1988 61

A.67 The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations

1998 61

A.73 Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations

1994 62

Appendix 2: Protocol between local housing

authorities and fire and rescue authorities to improve

fire safety 63

Appendix 3: Example form for recording significant

findings from the fire risk assessment 70

Glossary 71

Some useful fire safety terms

Bibliography 74

Further acknowledgements 76

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Acknowledgements

LACORS extends particular thanks to Kevin Thompson,

author of this guidance and would also like to express its

sincere appreciation to the following who made significant

contributions:

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)

with particular thanks to Andrew Griffiths

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) with particular

thanks to Paul Dryden,

Communities and Local Government, with particular

thanks to Brian Martin and Rhian Blackman.

DASH (Decent and Safe Homes, East Midlands) with

particular thanks to Martin Brown of Derby City

Council,

The National HMO Network Steering Group, with

particular thanks to John Venables.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) with particular

thanks to Elizabeth Brogan

The Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authorities and Local

Authorities with particular thanks to Paul Rotherham

In preparing this guidance, LACORS wish to make it clear

that:

(i) Legislation may change over time and the advice

given is based on the information available at the

time the guidance was produced. It is not necessarily

comprehensive and is subject to revision in the light of

further information;

(ii) Only the Courts, the Residential Property Tribunal or

Lands Tribunal can interpret statutory legislation with

any authority; and

(iii) This advice is not intended to be a definitive

guide to, nor a substitute for, the relevant law and

independent legal advice should be sought where

appropriate.

housing – fire safety 3


Part A: Introduction

1. Purpose of this guidance

1.1 This document contains guidance for landlords

and fire safety enforcement officers in both local

housing authorities (LHAs) and in fire and rescue

authorities (FRAs) on how to ensure adequate fire

safety in certain types of residential accommodation.

It offers practical advice on fire risk assessment and

contains case studies with suggested fire safety

solutions. Appendix 1 provides an overview of the

legal framework in relation to fire safety, but landlords

should be able to comply with fire safety requirements

without a detailed knowledge of the legal framework.

Where necessary, advice on enforcement matters

can be sought from the LHA, FRA or appropriate

landlord associations. The content of this document

is intended as guidance only. Definitive interpretation

of the legislative requirements can only be made by

the relevant court or tribunal. The guidance applies

to England, but Welsh statutory requirements are

very similar and so the general guidance on fire risk

assessment may also be relevant in Wales.

1.2 This guidance does not introduce new standards or

regulations but builds upon existing good practice

and guidance currently in place around the country.

It aims to provide landlords and enforcing officers

with assistance in complying with the legislative

requirements in a consistent and reasonable manner.

The guidance was subject to an extensive consultation

exercise and the final content has received input from

a large number of LHAs, FRAs and landlords as well

as Communities and Local Government and the Chief

Fire Officers Association.

1.3 This document does not set prescriptive standards

but provides recommendations and guidance for

use when assessing the adequacy of fire precautions

in these types of premises. Alternative fire risk

assessment methods may be equally valid in order

to comply with fire safety law, and alternative

approaches to individual fire safety solutions may be

acceptable.

1.4 There is currently no national guidance available to

landlords to help them understand and comply with

the regulatory framework. This document aims to

provide that assistance. It also offers guidance to

enforcing officers on both the regulatory framework

itself and on recommendations for some fire safety

solutions which will comply with that framework. The

regulatory framework is summarised in paragraphs

1.6-1.8 and a more comprehensive explanation is

offered in Appendix 1.

1.5 The guidance will be kept under review and further

guidance may be issued. Any comments or enquiries

should be addressed to LACORS at housing@lacors.

gov.uk. Please note that LACORS will be unable to

respond to queries from individual landlords and

managing agents. Landlords with queries about fire

safety regulation should contact their local council or

fire and rescue authority.

1.6 The Housing Act 2004 brought in a new system

of regulation for fire safety in existing residential

premises by way of the housing health and safety

rating system (HHSRS), licensing provisions for houses

in multiple occupation (HMOs) and management

regulations for HMOs. In practice the HHSRS is the

principal tool used to assess and regulate fire safety

standards, but HMO licensing conditions will reflect

HHSRS assessments. The responsible person for the

purposes of fire safety provision and maintenance at

the residential accommodation is the person having

control – usually the landlord, or alternatively in HMOs

the manager. Previous fire safety guidance for HMOs

contained in the Department of Environment Circular

12/92 has been withdrawn.

1.7 Alongside the Housing Act 2004, the Regulatory

Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) introduced

duties in relation to fire safety in the common areas

of HMOs note 1 , flats, maisonettes and sheltered

accommodation in which personal care is not

provided. The duty is placed on the responsible

person, who is required to carry out a fire risk

assessment and take specific action to minimise the

risk of fire in the common parts. ‘Responsible person’

means “the person who has control of the premises in

connection with the carrying on of a trade, business or

other undertaking”. In practice this will usually be the

landlord, but in the case of absentee landlords where

the “carrying on of the business” is undertaken by a

managing agent it may be the managing agent. These

provisions are enforced by fire and rescue authorities.

note 1: the order will not apply to some HMOs which

are occupied as ‘shared houses’ – see paragraph 35

for further guidance.

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1.8 There is therefore a dual enforcement regime in

place in multi-occupancy premises. In order to avoid

duplication and the potential for conflict, the Fire

Safety Protocol established a framework for joint

working arrangements between these two sets of

authorities and is being adopted locally around the

country to good effect. The protocol is included in

this guidance at Appendix 2. In premises occupied by

single households, only the HHSRS (housing health

and safety rating system) will apply.

1.9 Guidance to fire and rescue authorities under the

FSO has been issued in the HM Government Fire

Safety Risk Assessment Sleeping Accommodation

Guide, published by Communities and Local

Government (CLG) in May 2006. Guidance for local

housing authorities under the Housing Act 2004 is

contained in the HHSRS Operating Guidance and

HHSRS Enforcement Guidance, both issued by CLG

in February 2006. In order to underpin the fire safety

protocol and offer practical guidance to enforcing

authorities and landlords, several local and regional

guides have also been developed around the country.

Some excellent work has been done in this respect,

but it has been widely recognised that a single set

of national, risk-based guidance is needed to bring

together and build upon this regional work and inform

LHAs, FRAs and landlords in their application of fire

safety solutions. Such guidance will help to simplify

the dual enforcement approach and bring some

national consistency. However, it should be noted that

housing design varies across the country and there

are certain types of houses specific to certain regions

which require a specialist solution. In such cases,

local guidance may be more comprehensive than that

contained in this guide.

LACORS has produced this guidance in partnership

with the Chief Fire Officers Association and the

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in order

to meet the above objectives. The guidance has

undergone extensive consultation and received input

from many LHAs, FRAs and landlord associations

as well as individual landlords, housing and fire

professionals.

2. Scope of this guidance

2.1 This fire safety guide is intended for buildings which

have been constructed or adapted for use as domestic

dwellings, and covers a range of existing residential

premises including:

• single household properties;

• shared houses;

• bedsit HMOs;

• purpose-built flats and buildings converted into selfcontained

flats to a standard not in compliance with

the Building Regulations 1991;

• sheltered accommodation in which personal care is

not provided; and

• small hostels to which the HM Government Sleeping

Accommodation Guide is inappropriate (application

will be determined by the LHA and FRA jointly under

the terms of the Fire Safety Protocol).

2.2 It should be noted that the guidance applies to the

above types of premises regardless of tenure (i.e.

whether owner-occupied, social housing or private

rented sector).

2.3 This guidance does not apply to properties

constructed or converted to a standard in compliance

with the Building Regulations 1991 or later (and which

still comply). Buildings converted and maintained to

a standard meeting those regulations will not require

additional fire safety measures unless occupied in

a manner other than intended under the original

construction or conversion scheme (for example

occupation of a single household flat as a flat in

multiple occupation or where some other additional

risk has been subsequently introduced). Where a

building did comply but has deteriorated significantly

through lack of maintenance, damage or other

alteration then it may require additional measures

and this guidance should be applied. Where building

regulation standards are subsequently raised it is

not currently envisaged that further works would be

necessary.

2.4 This guidance is also not intended to apply to:

• guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation

used by tourists/visitors. However, this type of

accommodation is sometimes used to accommodate

single homeless persons as their sole home. In such

cases this guidance may apply and the terms of the

Fire Safety Protocol should be adhered to determine

enforcement responsibilities (see Appendix 2);

• hotels and motels;

• large hostels for which the HM Government Suite

of Guidance is more appropriate (see note in 2.1

above);

• refuges such as family accommodation centres and

halfway houses;

housing – fire safety 5


• residential health and beauty spa centres;

• residential conference, seminar and training centres;

• student halls of residence (including those managed

by commercial providers) and areas of sleeping

accommodation in other training institutions

including military barrack-style quarters;

• areas of buildings in boarding schools that provide

sleeping accommodation;

• seminaries and other religious colleges;

• sheltered accommodation where personal care is

provided;

• residential care homes;

• holiday chalets and complexes, camping and

caravan parks (except privately owned individual

units); and

• areas in workplaces where staff ‘sleeping-in’ is a

condition of employment or a business requirement,

as in hotels; but not including tied accommodation

such as separate flats, houses, apartments, HMOs

and accommodation above pubs.

These types of accommodation fall under the

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and

detailed fire safety guidance for them is contained

in the HM Government Fire Safety Risk Assessment

Sleeping Accommodation Guide.

3.2 The guidance is laid out as follows:

Part A: the introduction should be read by everyone

using the guide as it lays out the purpose, scope

and application of the guidance and the intended

readership.

Part B: outlines the principles and methodology of fire

risk assessment. This is particularly aimed at landlords

and is intended to offer them guidance and assistance

in a simple format in order to de-mystify the fire risk

assessment process. It may also be useful to new

enforcement officers or those returning to this area of

work.

Part C: outlines the general principles of fire safety

in residential accommodation. This part informs

the reader how various fire safety precautions may

be applied to reduce risk, and is a useful guide to

all readers as it explains why the various fire safety

precautions are recommended.

Part D: offers example case studies for various types

of premises. The studies are intended to bring the

principles in Part C to life. The studies given are

examples of fire safety solutions. Other solutions may

be equally valid. The studies must not be used as

‘off-the-peg’ solutions and should always be read in

conjunction with Part C.

3. Intended readership and layout of the guidance

3.1 This guidance is aimed at those who manage, give

advice, enforce standards or live in existing residential

accommodation falling within the scope of this guide.

Typically this will include:

• private sector housing providers (landlords);

• social housing providers;

• managing agents or facility managers;

• enforcement officers in local housing authorities;

• enforcement officers in fire and rescue authorities;

• advice agencies;

• residential leaseholders;

• owner-occupiers (where appropriate);

• freeholders (where appropriate); and

• tenants in the accommodation types covered by the

guidance (where they have an enquiry or dispute

relating to fire safety standards in their home).

The appendices are intended as a reference source for

all readers and include:

• a detailed explanation of the regulatory framework

for fire safety;

• the Fire Safety Protocol which establishes the

principles and describes the joint working

arrangements between LHAs and FRAs; and

• an example form for recording the findings of

the fire risk assessment which landlords may find

particularly useful.

The glossary is intended as a plain English guide to

some terms used in the guidance.

The bibliography offers sources of further reading for

those seeking greater detail or researching the source

of some of the guidance.

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Part B: Fire risk assessment

5. What is a fire risk assessment?

4. Introduction

4.1 Where it applies the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety)

Order 2005 (FSO) places a duty on the responsible

person to take general fire precautions to ensure,

as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of

the people on the premises and in the immediate

vicinity. ‘Responsible person’ means “the person who

has control of the premises in connection with the

carrying on of a trade, business or other undertaking”.

In practice this will usually be the landlord, but in the

case of absentee landlords where the “carrying on of

the business” is undertaken by a managing agent it

may be the managing agent.

4.2 The responsible person must carry out a fire risk

assessment for the purpose of identifying the general

fire precautions and other measures needed to

comply with the FSO. Although under the FSO this

requirement only applies to the common parts of

premises, in practice the responsible person will need

to take into account the entire premises – including, to

some extent, the units of accommodation themselves.

While the FSO has limited application to certain types

of property (see paragraph 35), the principles of fire

safety risk assessment apply across the board, and

their application should ensure compliance with all the

legislation.

4.3 Having identified the general fire precautions that

are necessary and having implemented them, the

responsible person must put in place a suitable system

of maintenance and appoint competent persons to

implement any procedures that have been adopted.

This could, for example, be a premises manager or

agent, who need not necessarily be permanently on

the premises but would ensure that the responsible

person’s duties were observed.

4.4 Guidance on fire risk assessments follows in this

section. More detailed guidance can be found in HM

Government Fire Safety Risk Assessment Sleeping

Accommodation Guide, which is available on the CLG

website at www.communities.gov.uk/firesafety.

5.1 A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical

look at the premises, the activities carried on there and

the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to

those in and around the premises.

5.2 Most premises covered by this guide will be relatively

small and will have a straightforward and simple

layout, and little fire safety expertise is likely to be

required to carry out the risk assessment. In larger

buildings or where the building contains different uses

(for example, residential accommodation alongside

or above a separate commercial use) then specialist

advice may be required.

5.3 The aims of the fire risk assessment are:

• to identify the fire hazards;

• to reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to

as low as reasonably practicable; and

• to decide what physical fire precautions and

management arrangements are necessary to ensure

the safety of people in the premises if a fire does

start.

5.4 The terms ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’ should be understood in

the context of this guidance:

• hazard: anything that has the potential to cause

harm

• risk: the chance of that harm occurring.

6. Suggested method for carrying out a risk

assessment

6.1 The guidance offered here follows the general

methodology contained in HM Government Fire Safety

Risk Assessment Sleeping Accommodation Guide, but

alternative approaches may be equally acceptable.

6.2 The assessment method suggested in this guide shares

the same approach as that used in general health

and safety legislation, and it can be carried out either

as part of a more general risk assessment or as a

separate exercise.

6.3 The fire risk assessment should be carried out in a

practical and systematic way and enough time must be

allocated to the exercise. In some larger premises and

those with mixed uses, it may be helpful to divide the

housing – fire safety 7


uilding into rooms or a series of assessment areas using

natural boundaries (for example kitchens, offices and

stores; and corridors, stairways and external routes).

6.4 The process can be broken down into five steps:

1. Identify fire hazards (paragraph 6.5).

2. Identify people at risk (paragraph 6.10).

3. Evaluate, remove or reduce risk and protect

against remaining risk note 2 (paragraph 6.14).

4. Record, plan and inform or train (paragraph 6.20).

5. Review (paragraph 6.25).

note 2: Part D of this guidance contains various

example case studies which may help inform on

appropriate precautions to remove, reduce and

protect against risk.

6.5 Step 1: identify the hazards within the premises

6.6 For a fire to start, three things are needed: a source

of ignition, fuel and oxygen. If any one of these is

absent, a fire cannot start. Taking measures to avoid

the three coming together will therefore reduce the

chances of a fire occurring.

6.7 Sources of ignition: identify potential sources of

ignition, i.e. sources of heat which could get hot

enough to ignite any materials around them. In

premises covered by this guide they may include:

• smokers’ materials such as cigarettes, matches and

lighters (if people smoke within the premises);

• naked flames, for example candles and night lights;

• electric, gas or oil-fired heaters (fixed or portable);

• boilers;

• cookers, toasters and other kitchen equipment

(especially when shared);

• faulty or misused electrical equipment;

• electric blankets, computers, TVs, washing machines

and dryers;

• lighting equipment (fixed and movable), for example

halogen lamps and table lamps;

• the electrical installation itself note 3 ;

• the gas installation note 3 ;

• arson attack; and

• in larger or mixed use properties, any plant rooms,

lift motor rooms and so on.

6.8 Sources of fuel: anything that burns is fuel for a fire.

Things that will burn reasonably easily and are in large

enough quantity to provide fuel for a fire or cause it to

spread to another fuel source are potential hazards. In

premises covered by this guide they may include the

following, but this list is not exhaustive:

• furniture, furnishings, textiles, bedding, clothing and

curtains note 4 ;

• laundry;

• accumulations of unwanted mail, waste paper,

cardboard, newspapers and magazines (including

that awaiting recycling collection);

• waste storage and refuse containers;

• flammable liquid-based products such as paint,

varnish, thinners, adhesives, white spirit, methylated

spirit and cooking oils;

• liquefied gas (LPG), paraffin, heating oils and petrol;

• paper products, packaging materials, stationery,

advertising material and books;

• decorations for seasonal and religious occasions;

• plastics and rubber such as videotapes, polyurethane

foam-filled furniture and polystyrene-based display

materials; and

• wall, floor and ceiling coverings and surface finishes.

note 3: electrical and gas installations and appliances

are subject to regulations which impose installation

and maintenance requirements (the Gas Safety

(Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994) (see

Appendix 1, paragraphs A.67 and A.73). Compliance

with these regulations will reduce the risk presented

by some of the items listed above.

note 4: furniture and furnishings are subject to the

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

(see Appendix 1, paragraph A.61). Compliance with

these regulations will reduce the risk these items present.

Particular care should be taken when premises are

undergoing alteration, repair or redecoration. During

such times flammable materials that would not

normally be present may be stored in the premises,

possibly in escape routes or in rooms which are

otherwise unused. Care should be taken as to where

and how these products are stored. Premises which

normally have good fire precautions and present a

low fire risk may have their fire safety compromised by

temporary careless storage of these products or by the

disabling of fire precautions during the period of the

works.

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housing – fire safety


6.9 Sources of oxygen: in premises covered by this guide

the oxygen source will be the air in the building.

Where only normal natural domestic ventilation is

provided the risk will generally be normal.

6.10 Step 2: identify people at risk

6.11 It is necessary to identify those who will be at risk if

there is a fire and where they are likely to be found.

In premises covered by this guide these will generally

be residents and their visitors and anybody working

in the premises such as a caretaker or cleaner and

any visiting contractors. Only in buildings with mixed

residential and commercial use are there likely to be

other people to consider.

6.12 The risk assessment should consider people at risk,

who may include:

• people asleep (who will be disorientated and slow to

respond);

• people who are unfamiliar with the premises (guests

and visitors);

• people with disabilities (including mobility

impairment and hearing or vision impairment);

• people who may have some other reason for not

being able to leave the premises quickly (such as

parents with young children);

• people who are sensorially impaired due to alcohol,

drugs or medication;

• unaccompanied children and young people;

• anyone working in enclosed, isolated parts of the

building; and

• anyone who has difficulty understanding English.

6.13 In evaluating the risk to people with disabilities it may

be necessary to discuss their individual needs with

them or seek professional advice.

6.14 Step 3: evaluate, remove or reduce risk and

protect against remaining risk

6.15 Hazards should be removed where it is practicable to

do so, and where they cannot be removed they should

be reduced as far as possible. What is considered

reasonable in a particular case will depend on an

evaluation of the potential to cause harm and the

chance of that harm occurring. Some simple examples

are given below:

• replace portable heating appliances with fixed

convector heaters or a central heating system;

• ensure electrical sockets are adequate in number

and sited appropriately to avoid overloading and

trailing leads;

• ensure electrical, mechanical and gas equipment

is installed, used, maintained and protected in

accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions;

• ensure all furniture complies with the Furniture and

Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988;

• ensure combustible items such as furniture, laundry

and decorations are stored properly and are kept

away from potential ignition sources such as

cookers, heaters and boilers;

• ensure refuse is properly stored and disposed of; and

• in crowded accommodation, provide adequate

shelving and cupboard space so that everyday items

are not in proximity to cookers, heaters and so on.

6.17 Having taken measures to remove or reduce fire

hazards as far as is practicable, arrangements need to

be put in place to protect people from the remaining

fire risk as far as is reasonably possible by ensuring

that adequate fire precautions are in place to warn

people in the event of a fire and to allow them to

escape to a place of safety.

6.18 The general principles of fire risk reduction are

outlined in Part C, where guidance is also given on

what measures should be implemented and to what

standards, based on overall fire risk assessment.

6.19 Case studies of various types of premises and how

these precautions could be employed to reduce fire

risk are given in Part D.

6.20 Step 4: record, plan, inform, instruct and train

6.21 It is a good idea for everyone to keep a written record of

their fire safety risk assessment. If you have five or more

employees (including any who work part-time and not

necessarily at the particular premises being risk-assessed),

and if the premises are licensed, or if an alterations

notice is in force (see Appendix 1, A.57) the law says

you must make a written record of your risk assessment.

In these cases it is the “significant findings” of the risk

assessment that must be recorded. Significant findings

are the actions to be taken as a result of the assessment

and details of anyone at particular risk. Significant

findings should include details of:

• the fire hazards that have been identified (but ignore

trivial things such as a tin of solvent-based glue);

• the actions taken, or which will be taken, to remove

housing – fire safety 9


or reduce the chance of a fire occurring (preventive

measures);

• persons who may be at risk, particularly those

especially at risk;

• the actions taken, or which will be taken, to reduce

the risk to people from the spread of fire and smoke

(protective measures);

• the actions people need to take if a fire occurs. This

will include any special arrangements made with staff

such as housekeepers or others (the emergency plan);

• any information, instruction and training identified

as being needed, and how it will be given; and

• any discussions that have taken place with residents

(or, if appropriate, with staff).

It is recommended that a record of the significant

findings of the fire risk assessment is kept in all cases,

even where it is not a requirement to do so. An

example template is shown in Appendix 3 – however,

any alternative format will be acceptable provided it

contains the information above.

6.22 An appropriate emergency plan should be put in place.

In most residential accommodation this is unlikely to

extend beyond advising residents what to do in the

event of a fire or fire alarm and how to contact the fire

and rescue service. In large or mixed use premises a

more sophisticated plan may be necessary.

Part C: General principles of fire risk

reduction

7. Introduction

7.1 Existing residential accommodation comprises a wide

range of property types, occupancy arrangements and

occupier type. Fire risks in rented accommodation, and

in particular in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs),

can be complex. HMOs often provide accommodation

for people from a wide range of backgrounds and

may house vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. In

some HMOs there is a high occupancy turnover rate

with little social interaction or cohesion between

occupiers. The mix of often poor-quality, low-cost

housing and vulnerable occupants can lead to a higher

than normal fire risk.

7.2 With these varying factors applying it is not credible

to offer a single solution to fire safety which can be

applied broadly. Fire safety solutions must instead be

based on the level of risk presented by an individual

property and its mode and level of occupation. Often

alternative solutions are available which will provide an

equally acceptable level of fire safety for a particular

property, and sometimes identical properties may need

different approaches due to differences in the types of

occupation or the needs of the occupants.

6.23 The responsible person must provide any employees

with appropriate information and training on risks

identified in the risk assessment and information on

fire safety measures and procedures for the premises.

6.24 There is no requirement under the FSO to provide

training to residents, but providing them with basic

information on fire precautions is a simple and

effective way of reducing fire risk in the premises.

6.25 Step 5: review

6.26 The risk assessment and the general fire precautions

in the premises should be reviewed regularly. There is

no specific timescale for this other than where there is

a reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or where

there has been a significant change in the premises.

6.27 In practice the fire precautions should be kept under

constant review. Where problems are identified they

should be dealt with as soon as possible.

7.3 This risk-based approach is enshrined in current fire

safety legislation, in particular the housing health and

safety rating system and the Regulatory Reform (Fire

Safety) Order 2005 (see Appendix 1, paragraphs A.7

and A.51).

7.4 However, some basic fundamental principles apply to

fire safety generally, and these must be applied flexibly

to meet the needs of a particular property. These

principles are outlined in this chapter and are brought

to life in the case studies in Part D.

7.5 A risk assessment carried out on premises constructed

or converted to a standard which would meet the

requirements of the Building Regulations 1991,

approved document B is unlikely to conclude

that additional fire safety measures are required.

Premises constructed/converted to that standard

and subsequently maintained as such are likely to

have adequate fire safety measures. The exception is

where the premises are occupied in a manner other

than that intended under the original construction

10

housing – fire safety


or conversion scheme (for example, occupation of a

single household flat as a flat in multiple occupation,

or where some other additional risk has been

subsequently introduced). Where a building did

comply but has deteriorated significantly through lack

of maintenance, damage or other alteration it may

require additional measures and this guidance should

be applied.

7.6 In view of the type of properties falling within

the scope of this guide, the fire safety approach

adopted is to provide early warning of any fire to all

occupiers and to ensure that they can safely evacuate

the building to a place of permanent safety (total

evacuation). Blocks of flats which were constructed or

converted in compliance with the Building Regulations

1991, approved document B or equivalent may adopt

a different approach such as ‘stay-put’ as the level of

compartmentation means there will be a low risk of

fire spreading beyond its unit of origin.

8. General fire safety principles

Figure C1 (below) illustrates some general principles

which underpin fire safety in a residential context.

9. Escape routes

9.1 This section provides guidance on the general

principles relating to escape routes along with

examples of typical escape route solutions for different

building layouts. Most residential premises covered

by this guide will be considered as ‘normal’ risk.

This is based on the general assumption that the

occupants are able-bodied and will be capable of

using the means of escape unaided to reach a place of

ultimate safety, and that there are no unusually high

risk elements. If this is not the case or there are other

factors which present a higher than normal risk then

additional measures may be required.

9.2 Layout of accommodation units themselves

must be considered. Poor layout within a unit of

accommodation can present a fire risk to the occupant

before he or she is able to reach the escape route.

Ideally, sleeping areas or rooms should be closer to

the exit door to the accommodation than living areas

or kitchen facilities (see also paragraphs 12 and 13

regarding inner rooms and galleries).

9.3 Wherever possible, fire risks such as the storage of

significant quantities of flammable materials and ready

housing – fire safety 11


sources of ignition should be removed or reduced. If

it is not possible to do so, the risk should be regarded

as ‘higher’ and the property may need a higher level

of fire safety protection than normal. Other examples

of higher risk might include very large premises,

premises where there are integral commercial uses,

and those with unusually poor levels of construction

or with complicated layouts. Similarly, the occupancy

of the building may present a higher than normal

risk, thereby warranting a higher level of protection –

for example where significant numbers of occupiers

have limited mobility or are unable to move without

assistance, or premises catering for people subject to

alcohol or substance misuse.

9.4 Conversely, some premises present a risk which can

be regarded as ‘low’. Examples may include premises

with all of the following characteristics:

• a low occupancy level and all the occupants are

able-bodied and capable of using the means of

escape without assistance;

• very little chance of a fire occurring and few, if any,

highly combustible or flammable materials or other

fuel for a fire;

• where fire cannot spread quickly throughout the

property and will be quickly detected so people can

make their escape; and

• where there is more than one acceptable escape route.

9.5 The guidance on acceptable standards for escape

routes in this document is based upon ‘normal’ risk.

9.6 When considering the safety of the existing escape

route, in addition to the occupant profile it is

necessary to consider:

• the layout and complexity of the route;

• the travel distance to a place of safety;

• the type of construction and state of repair; and

• the presence of other fire safety measures such

as automatic fire detection and warning systems,

emergency lighting or fire suppression systems.

Figure C2 (below): Some risk factors to consider

9.7 In all buildings a fully protected escape route

(staircase) offering 30 minutes fire resistance is the

ideal solution and it will usually be appropriate for

all bedsit-type accommodation. However, in lower

risk buildings (i.e. single household occupancy of up

to four storeys and low risk shared houses), due to

the lower risk and shorter travel distance to the final

exit, this need not be insisted upon as long as all the

following conditions are met:

• the stairs should lead directly to a final exit without

passing through a risk room;

• the staircase enclosure should be of sound,

conventional construction throughout the route;

• all risk rooms should be fitted with sound,

close-fitting doors of conventional construction

(lightweight doors and doors with very thin panels

should be avoided); and

• an appropriate system of automatic fire detection

and warning is in place (see table C4).

12

housing – fire safety


9.8 An alternative solution is possible in low risk twostorey

shared houses. Where the first floor is no more

than 4.5 metres above ground level, rooms used for

sleeping could be provided with access to a suitable

escape window from the first floor leading to a place

of ultimate safety. In this situation consideration of the

internal escape route is not essential. The option of

escape windows will only be acceptable if they meet

the requirements of paragraph 14, and, where they do

not, the provisions of paragraph 9.7 should be usually

applied. If it is necessary to pass through the common

escape route to reach the escape window, consideration

should be had to the travel distance involved. Where the

common escape route is not a protected route, unusually

long travel distances may be unacceptable and other fire

precautions may be necessary (this will not usually be the

case in conventional houses).

9.9 In the worst-case scenario, it may be that the

requirements of paragraphs 9.7 and 9.8 cannot be

provided and the only exit internally is through a risk

room. Whilst this should always be avoided where

possible, in some cases it may be impracticable to

do so. Where this is the case it may exceptionally be

possible to accept exit via a risk room provided the exit

from the bottom of the staircase at ground floor level

is possible in more than one direction (i.e. via either

the front or the rear rooms). 30-minute fire resisting

construction and FD30S fire doors between each

of the ground floor rooms and the staircase will be

required alongside an enhanced system of automatic

fire detection. Where escape from the bottom of the

staircase is only possible in one direction, a further

alternative might be the installation of a water

suppression system. These arrangements will generally

be unsuitable for bedsit-type occupation.

9.10 When a fire starts, if there are no fire safety measures

in place then the time that people have to escape

before they become affected or trapped is extremely

limited. The presence of fire safety measures extends

this time. In practice this means the installation of

some form of fire warning and detection system and

an escape route which will remain unaffected by the

fire for sufficient time to allow people to reach a place

of safety. By necessity, the travel distance along the

escape route must be limited.

9.11 Limiting the travel distance from rooms to a place

of safety reduces the risk of people being trapped

by a fire on their escape route. This guidance does

not set a maximum travel distance, as this should be

considered in the context of overall risk. However,

previous standards have suggested maximum safe

distances. For example, nine metres was considered

the maximum acceptable distance from a room exit

door to a place of relative safety. This is a useful

reference but need not be applied as a rigid standard,

and may be increased or decreased depending upon

the level of risk once the appropriate fire prevention

measures have been put in place. When assessing

travel distances, the distance should be considered

from all parts of the premises to the nearest place of

relative safety, which is:

• a protected stairway enclosure (storey exit);

• a separate fire compartment from which there is a

final exit to a place of ultimate safety; or

• the nearest available final exit.

9.12 If there is a suitable second staircase or exit or if there

are additional fire safety measures (an enhanced

system of fire detection and warning, for example,

or a water suppression system), the premises may

be considered lower risk and the travel distances

and levels of protection may be adjusted accordingly

where this lower risk can be demonstrated.

9.13 In single room units or other accommodation which

has an exit door leading directly to a protected

stairway enclosure or a separate fire compartment

from which there is a final exit to a place of ultimate

safety, it will only be necessary to consider the

travel distance from the furthest point within the

unit to that exit door. It is unlikely that in the types

accommodation covered by this guide the distance

will be so large as to have any impact on safety, but

if such cases do arise then additional safety measures

may be appropriate. In any event, cooking facilities

within these rooms should, wherever possible, be sited

away from the exit door so as not to prejudice it in the

event of fire.

9.14 In units with more than one room leading off an

internal lobby or hallway (flats), the travel distance

within that lobby/hallway will need to be considered.

If it is unusually large or there are a large number

of rooms leading off it (for example a large flat

in multiple occupation), the travel distances may

necessitate making the internal lobby/hallway a fire

protected route; or it may necessitate the provision of

an alternative exit or additional fire safety measures

such as an enhanced fire detection and warning

system or an automatic water suppression system.

Doors to sleeping rooms within the unit should,

wherever possible, be closer to the exit door than

housing – fire safety 13


doors to higher-risk rooms such as kitchens and

communal living rooms.

9.15 In more complex buildings, such as those with more

than one escape route or with complex layouts,

greater attention to travel distances will be required.

Such situations will not usually be encountered in the

type of premises covered by this guide, but if so then

the guidance contained in HM Government Fire Safety

Risk Assessment Sleeping Accommodation Guide

should be followed.

10. Habitable basements

10.1 Consideration needs to be given to the fire risk

presented to occupiers of any storey below the main

entry/exit level of the house and the risk that storey

poses to the remainder of the house. Such storeys

may be true basements or lower ground floors where

the main house entry level is raised above ground and

accessed via steps.

10.2 Ideally, the fire separation between the basement and

the ground floor (including the staircase soffit and

spandrel) should be 30 minutes fire resisting, and a

30-minute fire resisting door should be fitted at the

head of the basement stairs.

staircase) to ensure that escaping occupiers do not

have to escape up through a trapped layer of smoke

and heat.

10.5 The standard of fire resistance of individual room

partitions and of doors to rooms should be the same

as for the remainder of the house.

10.6 Ideally, a separate exit to an ultimate place of safety

should be provided from the basement level. If this is

not possible then escape windows should be provided

to all habitable rooms. To be acceptable, escape

windows should comply with paragraph 14, and

where they do not (security measures may preclude it

or there may be no escape from the basement well)

then a 30-minute protected route should be provided

within the basement up to the ground floor. However,

for single household occupancy and in low-risk

shared houses of no more than two other storeys (not

counting the basement), it should be possible to relax

the 30-minute standard as in paragraph 10.3 above.

10.7 In all cases the same level of automatic fire detection

and warning system should be installed in the

basement as in the remainder of the house.

11. Unoccupied basements/cellars

10.3 For single household occupancy or low-risk shared

houses of no more than two other storeys (not

counting the basement), it should be possible to

accept existing construction provided it is of sound,

conventional construction (such as plasterboard or lath

and plaster ceilings) and is in good condition. In this

situation it should also be possible to accept existing,

well fitted and constructed solid doors within the

basement, providing they are in sound condition and

self closing. Solid timber doors and panelled doors

of substantial construction may be adequate in these

lower risk situations, but flimsy constructions and

hollow infill-type doors (commonly known as ‘eggbox’)

would not be. This can be difficult to assess and

expert advice may be required.

10.4 In larger shared houses and other multi-occupied

premises, full 30 minutes fire separation between

the basement and ground floors should be expected,

with a self-closing 30-minute fire resisting door with

intumescent strips and smoke seals fitted at the head

of the stairs to the basement. In some very large

occupied basements, it may be appropriate to have

two FD30S doors (top and bottom of the basement

11.1 Unoccupied basements and cellars are often neglected

or used for storage. They usually contain electrical

wiring and possibly electric or gas meters, and they

often receive little attention. The basement/cellar may

be one open void without partitioning. Alternatively

there may be rooms but they may not have substantial

doors, the doors may be left open or may be in

disrepair. In either case, any fire will quickly attack the

basement/ground floor partition and door. Because

of its location the fire will spread rapidly upwards and

prejudice the escape route from the ground floor. For

these reasons, generally the fire separation between

the basement and the ground floor (including the

staircase soffit and spandrel) should be 30 minutes fire

resisting, and a 30-minute fire resisting door should be

fitted at the head of the basement stairs. However, for

two-storey single household occupancies and twostorey,

low-risk shared houses, if the basement is well

maintained and managed it may be possible to apply

the same relaxation in fire separation as in paragraph

10.3 above. In all cases the same level of automatic

fire detection and warning system as in the remainder

of the house should be installed in the basement.

14

housing – fire safety


12. Inner rooms

12.1 A room where the only escape route is through

another room is termed an ‘inner room’ and poses

a risk to its occupier if a fire starts unnoticed in the

outer room (sometimes termed an ‘access room’). This

arrangement should be avoided wherever possible.

However, where unavoidable it may be accepted where

the inner room is a kitchen, laundry or utility room, a

dressing room, bathroom, WC or shower room.

12.2 Where the inner room is any other type of habitable

room (for example a living room, sleeping room,

workroom or study) it should only be accepted if:

• the inner room has access to a suitable door

opening onto an alternative safe route of escape,

or it is situated on a floor which is not more than

4.5m above ground level and has an escape window

leading directly to a place of ultimate safety;

• an adequate automatic fire detection and warning

system is in place (see paragraphs 22-25); and

• a fire-resisting door of an appropriate standard is

fitted between the inner and outer rooms (typically

FD30S standard for non-high-risk outer rooms).

12.3 Escape windows are only acceptable if they meet the

requirements of paragraph 14.

12.4 In addition to the precautions outlined in paragraphs

12.1-12.3 above, in all cases the following additional

requirements must apply for the arrangement to be

acceptable:

• outer rooms should be under the control of the

same person as the inner room;

• nobody should have to pass through more than one

outer room while making their escape; and

• ideally the outer room should not be an area of high

fire risk, but if this is impracticable and there is no

other option it could be accepted in this situation as

exit via an escape window provides an alternative.

Figure C3 (below): Inner rooms

13. Galleries

13.1 Gallery accommodation has become popular in

open plan studios and elsewhere where space is at a

premium. To be acceptable a gallery should:

• ideally be provided with an alternative exit leading

to a place of safety; or

• where the gallery platform is not more than 4.5m

above external ground level it should have an

escape window leading to a place of safety. Escape

windows will only be acceptable if they meet the

requirements of paragraph 14.

13.2 Where an alternative exit or suitable escape window is

not possible, the gallery should comply with all of the

following:

• at least 50% of the floor area of the room should be

unobscured by the gallery;

• the distance from the foot of the egress stair

from the gallery to the room exit should not be

excessive (approximately three metres is a suggested

reasonable maximum); and

• any cooking facilities within the room should be

enclosed within fire-resisting construction or be sited

remote from the room exit and gallery egress stair.

housing – fire safety 15


13.3 In all cases a suitable automatic fire detection and

warning system should be in place (see paragraphs

22-25).

Figure C4 (below): Gallery where escape window is

not possible

14. Requirements for escape windows

14.1 Any window provided for emergency escape purposes

should have an unobstructed openable area that is

at least 0.33m² and have a minimum 450mm height

and 450mm width. The bottom of the openable area

should not be more than 1,100mm above the floor.

14.2 Escape windows can only be considered if satisfied

that it would be safe to use them in an emergency.

They should meet the following criteria:

• they serve rooms whose floor level is no more than

4.5m from the ground;

• every room served by the escape window has access

to it without entering another habitable room

with a lockable door (unless of a type that can be

overridden from outside the room without the use

of a key, tool or numerical code) and any tenancy

agreement should ideally prohibit the fitting of

alternative or additional locks. (This will usually be

achievable in single household occupancies and

most shared houses, but is unlikely in a bedsit-type

HMO);

• If it is necessary to pass through the common escape

route to reach the escape window, consideration

should be had to the travel distance involved. Where

the common escape route is not a protected route,

unusually long travel distances may be unacceptable

and other fire precautions may be necessary (this

will not usually be the case in conventional houses);

• occupiers are able-bodied individuals with no

specific high-risk characteristics and who can

reasonably be expected to exit via the window

unaided;

• there is no basement well or other encumbrance

beneath the window such as railings or a

conservatory;

• the escape window is openable from the inside

without the use of a removable key; and the ground

below is level and free of obstructions; and

• the window or door should lead to a place of

ultimate safety, clear of the building. However, if

there is no practical way of avoiding escape into a

courtyard or back garden from where there is no

exit, it should be at least as deep as the building is

high.

Figure C5 (see page 17): Minimum requirements for

escape windows

14.3 If any of the above requirements cannot be met, the

use of the escape window should not be accepted and

an alternative solution should be adopted.

15. Protected routes/stairs

15.1 A protected route is designed to remain free from

smoke and fire for a time adequate to allow occupiers

of the building to pass safely along it to a place of

16

housing – fire safety


safety. The level of fire separation required between

the protected route and rooms presenting a fire risk is

determined by risk assessment.

15.2 Ideally the recommended standard of fire resistance

enclosing a protected route is 30 minutes for normal

risk premises. However, subject to risk assessment,

in lower risk properties (average single household

occupancy or low risk shared houses) with automatic

fire detection this may be relaxed (see paragraph 9.7).

In such cases it may be sufficient to accept sound,

conventional construction throughout the route.

Larger properties, however, will require 30 minutes

protection including fire doors. Areas of high fire

risk may require 60 minutes protection. Examples of

60-minute requirement include:

• walls, ceilings and doors separating commercial uses

from residential parts;

• walls, ceilings and doors separating areas of high

fire risk, for example commercial kitchens, large

boiler rooms or large stores;

• separating walls between buildings; and

• basement areas or cellars without automatic fire

detection.

Further guidance on protected routes is given in the

remainder of this section, and case study examples of

suitable fire safety solutions are given in Part D.

15.3 The protected route should be maintained free of any

obstructions and/or fire risks. In particular, the stairway

should not contain:

• any portable electric, gas or oil heaters;

• any fixed heaters using a portable heating source

such as liquefied gas;

• any cooking facilities; and

• any furniture or storage.

15.4 Storage cupboards should not be located in protected

routes unless they are fire resisting and kept locked

shut and smoke alarms/detectors are fitted within

them (as appropriate). The exception is for all singlehousehold

accommodation and shared houses of not

housing – fire safety 17


more than two storeys, for which in most situations

cupboards can be adequately managed so as not to

present an additional risk and can be accepted.

15.5 Gas or electric meters and/or distribution boards

should ideally not be sited in escape routes. However,

it should be possible to relax this providing any gas

meter is installed in accordance with the gas safety

regulations and any electric meter is installed and

sited in accordance with current IEE regulations. It is

considered best practice to enclose such equipment in

fire-resisting construction.

15.6 There is usually no requirement to provide protection

to bathrooms and shower rooms which open onto

protected routes. Properly installed and maintained

central heating boilers, electric showers or water

heaters and room-sealed gas water heaters pose little

additional risk. However, if the room contains open

flame or electric bar space heaters, storage cupboards

or other risk items then either the storage cupboards

or the room itself, as appropriate, should be protected

to the appropriate standard in the same way as the

remainder of the route.

16. Exit doors

16.1 Ideally, final exit doors from all premises should be

fitted with locks/catches which are openable by

the occupiers from the inside without the use of a

removable key. This should always be the case in

HMOs, including shared houses. Where security locks

are fitted they should be of the type with a suitable

internal thumb-turn to facilitate this. To safeguard

security any glazed panels within the door or adjacent

to it should replaced with protected glazing of some

kind or protected in another way from intruders.

16.2 It is strongly recommended that the exit door from

each unit of accommodation (bedsit or flat) is also

openable from the inside without the use of a

removable key.

16.3 Electrically operated locks must fail to safety (open) or

have a manual over-ride in the event of power failure.

17. Secondary means of escape

17.1 In certain larger buildings and those with certain higher

risk characteristics, a secondary means of escape will be

required (for example in a six-storey bedsit-type HMO or

a five-storey bedsit-type HMO which does not have fire

protecting lobbies to the risk rooms).

17.2 For the purposes of this guidance the term ‘secondary

means of escape’ refers to a second, alternative means

of escape from the building other than the usual escape

route usually used to enter or exit the premises.

17.3 Typically a secondary means of escape will comprise

an external staircase down the rear or side of

the building. In some situations this may prove

impracticable, and as an alternative a secondary

means of escape could be achieved by creating a

door through a separating wall or across a roof

walkway into the common parts of another building

which itself has a protected route leading to a place

of safety. Such arrangements are undesirable and

should be ‘designed out’ wherever possible. If no

other arrangement is possible then this is usually

only acceptable when the two adjoining buildings

are under the same ownership/management or

where the arrangement is reciprocal and a strictly

enforced, legally binding agreement is in place. In

an ideal situation, access to the secondary escape

would be possible from every floor. However, this is

usually impracticable, and access solely from the top

floor will be acceptable provided the other fire safety

precautions recommended in this guide are in place.

In five and six-storey buildings, to protect the upward

escape route at fourth and fifth floor levels from any

fire on the floors below, there should be 30 minutes

fire separation across the staircase between the fourth

and fifth floors.

17.4 To be acceptable a secondary means of escape should

meet the following requirements:

• have access from the common parts of the building,

not solely from rooms, bathrooms or WCs (where

this is impracticable, special arrangements may be

made with the agreement of the LHA);

• terminate at ground floor level at a place of ultimate

safety;

• the entire length of the secondary means of escape

to be passable without the use of a key or other tool;

• access preferably by a standard door, but where

impracticable via an opening of at least 800mm x

540mm;

• fixed walkways will be required across any roofs and the

roof area beneath should be 60 minutes fire resisting;

• walkways and staircases should have conventional

and emergency lighting throughout the route to the

standards outlined in paragraphs 23 and 24.

18

housing – fire safety


17.5 Stairs comprising secondary means of escape should

comply with the following:

• clear width (minimum 600mm, preferred 800mm);

• pitch 30-42 degrees from horizontal (optimum 35

degrees);

• going (depth of tread from front to back) 225-

300mm (optimum 250mm);

• rise (vertical distance between treads) 100mm-

220mm (optimum 175mm);

• treads to be flat and non-slip;

• handrails required on both sides (840-1000mm

height);

• minimum headroom clearance 1.5m (2m

perpendicular height preferable).

Further details are contained in BS 5395, parts 1 and 3.

17.6 Fixed or removable vertical ladders, pull-down ladders

and unconventional devices such as lowering lines and

cradles are not suitable as secondary means of escape.

18. External stairways (other requirements)

18.1 To be an acceptable secondary means of escape, any

external stairway should ideally be protected from the

effects of fire along its full length. Except for those

serving non-risk rooms, doors or windows adjacent

to the route and vertically below it should, where

possible, be protected. Doors should be fire resisting

and self closing. Windows should be of fire-resisting

construction and, if possible, fixed shut. However, in

reality this will be impracticable if the windows serve

habitable rooms. In such cases the risk will need to be

assessed. If a fire in the room could prejudice both the

internal escape route and the secondary escape route

at the same time, the risk will be unacceptable and

alternative measures will be required if the room is to

remain in habitable use. Alternatives might include

additional fire-resisting lobby protection internally,

re-siting of the risk windows, mechanical ventilation

to the room or the provision of a water suppression

system. If acceptable alternatives cannot be provided

then the room may need to be converted to low-risk

use (e.g. bathroom/WC). Research on the effects

of fire from openings on external escape routes

suggests that the sensitive area is approximately 1.8m

horizontally (as shown in figure C6 below). These

dimensions should be treated with some flexibility

according to the risk presented.

18.2 The external stairway should be protected from the

weather so that the treads do not become slippery.

If that is not possible then a regular maintenance

schedule should be in place and non-slip tread

surfaces fitted. A cyclical re-painting schedule to

prevent weather decay should be in place. Stairways

should have conventional and emergency lighting

throughout their route to the standards outlined in

paragraphs 23 and 24.

Figure C6 (see page 20): Protected zone around an

external secondary means of escape

19. Fire separation and compartmentation

19.1 In addition to providing a protected escape route, it

is necessary to restrict the spread of fire and smoke

from one unit of accommodation to another. This is

termed compartmentation. Fire-resisting construction

enclosing each unit of accommodation creates a

compartment that will contain fire and smoke within

it for a period of time, leaving adjacent units free from

the effects of fire during that time.

19.2 The recommended standard of fire separation in

the types of premises of normal risk covered by

this guide is generally 30 minutes. However, in

lower risk premises (for example average single

household occupancy or shared houses of no more

than two storeys) this requirement can be relaxed

(see paragraph 19.6). Where the fire risk assessment

identifies specific higher risks then a higher standard

of fire resistance may be required (usually 60 minutes)

or additional fire safety measures should be installed.

Examples of 60-minute requirement will include:

• walls, ceilings and doors separating commercial uses

from residential parts;

• walls, ceilings and doors separating areas of high

fire risk such as commercial kitchens, large boiler

rooms or large stores; and

• separating walls between buildings.

Attention should be paid to any ductwork that passes

through the separation. This will require protecting to

the same standard of fire resistance as the partition

itself.

19.3 Types of construction which meet the 30 minutes

fire resistance standard are those tested to the

relevant part of BS 476 or BS EN 13501. This will

usually mean solid walls or timber stud partitions of a

particular construction (with adequately fixed 12.5mm

plasterboard and skim coat). However, many other

housing – fire safety 19


proprietary constructions and products are available

which have been tested to these standards and have

a valid test certificate demonstrating 30 or 60 minutes

of fire resistance.

19.4 In general (but subject to paragraph 9.7 for lower risk

properties):

• walls and ceilings separating individual units of

accommodation should be constructed to provide a

minimum of 30 minutes fire resistance; and

• protected routes should be fully enclosed at all

points by construction providing a minimum fire

resistance of 30 minutes.

19.5 Existing partitions of standard construction with

adequately fixed 12.5mm plasterboard with skim coat,

on correctly sized and spaced timbers and in good

condition, can be expected to achieve a nominal fire

resistance of 30 minutes and should be acceptable.

19.6 In many existing buildings, constructions will be

encountered which are of a lesser standard (for

example 9mm plasterboard partitions or original lath

and plaster construction). It is likely to be impracticable

and uneconomic to replace such partitions as a matter

of routine whenever encountered. Where they are

in sound condition and good repair they may be

acceptable in lower risk premises (shared houses

of no more than two storeys with no particularly

vulnerable high-risk occupants, provided the other

fire safety measures as recommended in Parts C and

D of this guidance are in place). It will be difficult

to determine the exact construction of an existing

partition without invasive inspection. A practical

solution to this could be to accept partitions where

both sides of the partition are constructed of sound

plasterboard or lath and plaster in good repair.

Where there is any doubt as to the sound properties

or integrity of the partition it may be appropriate to

replace it. If these constructions are to be considered

in premises of higher risk than those described in this

paragraph, it should only be within the context of the

overall fire risk assessment. This is likely to conclude

that compensatory fire safety measures (such as an

enhanced system of automatic fire detection and

warning, a domestic water suppression system or a

secondary means of escape) are necessary.

19.7 Particular care must be taken with walls and partitions

enclosing protected routes to ensure that they will

restrict the passage of smoke and fire. Any openings

around pipes, services or ducts that pass through

fire-resisting construction should be fire stopped

with materials of at least the same level of fire

resistance as the structure itself. Many proprietary fire

stopping products are available, but only those which

provide the appropriate fire resistance when tested

to the relevant part of BS 476 or BS EN 13501 are

acceptable. Any services (such as cables) constructed

of combustible materials or materials likely to melt or

be affected by fire should be enclosed within fireresisting

construction and be fire stopped to restrict

the passage of smoke and fire.

20

housing – fire safety


20. Floor/ceiling partitions

20.1 In most premises covered by this guide, floor/

ceiling partitions between units of accommodation

should provide a standard of fire resistance of 30

minutes. The exception is those above areas of high

fire risk which should provide 60 minutes. Floor/

ceiling partitions between any basement or cellar

and the ground floor escape route should provide 60

minutes resistance, but this may be reduced to 30

minutes where the basement/cellar has an automatic

fire detection and warning system to the standard

recommended in paragraphs 27-30.

20.2 Inspection of the floors/ceilings as part of the fire

risk assessment will determine the suitability of

existing construction. Generally, ceilings constructed

with 12.5mm plasterboard with skim coat and in

sound condition will be adequate. Other proprietary

constructions will be encountered and it will be

necessary to consult the manufacturer’s fire test

report to determine the standard of fire resistance and

suitability.

20.3 Ceilings such as those constructed from 9mm

plasterboard or lath and plaster (in sound condition)

can be expected to provide a lower standard of fire

resistance. However, this should be acceptable as

part of an overall fire risk assessment in lower risk

premises such as single household occupancy and

shared houses of no more than three storeys with

no specific higher risk factors present. Acceptability

is conditional upon other fire safety measures being

in place as recommended in this guidance (Parts C

and D). If these constructions are to be considered

in premises of higher risk than those described in

this paragraph, it must only be within the context of

the overall fire risk assessment, which includes the

provision of compensatory fire safety measures such as

an enhanced standard of automatic fire detection and

warning system, a domestic water suppression system

or a secondary means of escape.

20.4 Ceilings which are not in sound condition, particularly

lath and plaster type, should be replaced or upgraded to

provide 30 minutes resistance. This can be achieved by:

• removal and replacement of the existing ceiling

with standard 12.5mm plasterboard and skim

construction or alternative product/construction

providing 30 minutes resistance and subject to a

satisfactory fire test report;

• providing additional protection below the ceiling; or

• providing additional protection within the floor

space above the ceiling.

20.5 There are a number of acceptable methods and

products available for upgrading ceilings/floors. Only

products accompanied by a valid test report should

be accepted. The report will specify the fire resistance

which will be achieved by the upgrading method. This

is essential for all upgrading methods, but particularly

so where proprietary products are being considered.

Where in doubt, careful scrutiny of the fire test report

is essential before acceptance. Particular attention

should be paid to any suspended ceilings. Several

products are available which provide adequate fire

resistance and which are accompanied by acceptable

test reports, but not all suspended ceilings are

designed to provide 30 minutes fire resistance. Often

they are installed for aesthetic reasons and may

conceal a ceiling beneath which has collapsed or

is damaged. In such cases the overall construction

may provide little fire resistance. Where suspended

ceilings already exist, ideally a test report should be

required from the installer/manufacturer. Where this

is not forthcoming a judgment will need to be made

following detailed inspection, and specialist advice

may be required.

20.6 Suspended ceilings which do meet an acceptable

standard should be inspected regularly and well

maintained as they can be easily damaged.

21. Fire doors

21.1 Where fire-resisting partitions are required, any

doorways within them must be fitted with fireresisting

door assemblies providing fire resistance at

least to the same standard as the requirement for the

partition itself – so 30-minute partitions will require a

30-minute fire-resisting door, 60-minute partitions a

60-minute door:

• 30-minute doorsets are specified as FD30 (or E 30)

• 60-minute doorsets are specified as FD60 (or E 60)

The 30 or 60 figures denote the integrity performance

time of the doorset in minutes. A letter ‘S’ after the

figure (e.g. FD30S) or ‘Sa’ (e.g. E30 Sa) denotes a

requirement for smoke seals to be fitted so as to

restrict the passage of smoke, including cold smoke

(see paragraph 21.3).

21.2 Most timber fire doors will need intumescent seals

housing – fire safety 21


fitted. The type and location of the seals varies with

the door design and the manufacturer’s instructions

should be followed.

21.3 In most situations fire-resisting doors should be fitted

with smoke seals, as these restrict the passage of

smoke into the escape route from the room where

the fire is situated. The exception to this is where fire

doors are fitted to rooms in premises where the fire

detection system is restricted to the escape route (see

paragraph 22.11/table C3). This will often be the case

in three-storey shared houses. In these cases smoke

seals should not be fitted, as their benefit will be

outweighed by the fact that the smoke detectors in

the escape route will only activate when the fire is at

an advanced stage and beginning to breach the fire

door. The resulting alarm may be so late sounding

that the fire and smoke is already affecting the escape

route. Where smoke detection is sited within rooms

(LD2 coverage – see paragraph 22.11/table C3) the

alarm will sound very early in the development of the

fire and the smoke seals will be of benefit in keeping

smoke out of the escape route, enabling occupiers to

evacuate safely.

21.4 Fire doors should be installed and maintained in

accordance with BS 8214:1990.

21.5 In most multi-occupancy situations, fire-resisting

doors should be fitted with approved self-closing

devices. This may be relaxed for doors within houses

or flats occupied by a single household and doors

within low-risk, shared houses. Doors to rooms within

larger flats in multiple occupation and in larger or

higher risk shared houses may require self-closers

within the context of an overall fire risk assessment.

Entrance doors to flats and bedsit rooms will always

require them. Where fitted they should be of a type in

compliance with BS EN1154 : 1997 (Power size 3 will

usually be appropriate for FD30 and FD30S fire doors)

21.6 In lower risk premises where a full 30-minute

protected route is not required (see paragraph 9.7 and

case studies in Part D), it should be possible to accept

existing, well fitted and constructed solid doors,

providing they are in sound condition. Solid timber

doors and panelled doors of substantial construction

may be adequate in these lower risk situations. Nonfire-resisting

glazed doors, doors of flimsy construction

or hollow infill-type doors (commonly known as ‘eggbox’)

should not be accepted. This can be difficult to

assess and expert advice may be required.

21.7 The specification for the doorset on site should be

identical to that specified in the test report for the

doorset, which will be available from the manufacturer

or supplier. Variations in any detail from the test

specification may adversely affect the performance

of the door. When new fire doors are to be provided,

ideally an entire doorset construction should be fitted

– thereby overcoming potential problems with fitting

doors to frames of a different specification to that in

the test construction. However, it is recognised that

in some existing buildings of substantial construction

this requirement may cause practical difficulties. If this

is the case it may be possible to fit new fire doors to

existing frames. This will, however, only be acceptable

if the frames are of sound construction, in good

condition, and of material and dimensions not less

than those of the frame detailed in the test report.

21.8 The upgrading of non-fire-resisting door assemblies

should be avoided wherever possible. The practice is

generally impractical and uneconomic and is reliant

upon strict adherence to an approved specification and

upon a high standard of workmanship. Replacement

with suitable, purpose designed and tested doorset

constructions is always preferable. However, it is

accepted that for aesthetic reasons it may be necessary

to undertake upgrading rather than replacement. This

will apply in buildings of special architectural interest

and certainly in listed buildings where it is important

to maintain the appearance or original features of the

door. In non-listed buildings where there is no legal

requirement to maintain the features of the door,

property owners may still want to do so for aesthetic

reasons. Whilst undesirable from a practical and fire

safety viewpoint, upgrading may be acceptable subject

to strict conditions. Not all doors are suitable for

upgrading, so before undertaking upgrading the door

must be assessed for suitability by a qualified person.

Where the door is of a common construction and to

a specification that has previously been subjected to a

fire test and been considered suitable for upgrading,

a standard method of upgrading may be specified. If

the door type is unconventional it will need a specific

assessment by a suitably qualified person who will issue

an assessment report. The assessment report will specify

the upgrading measures required.

21.9 There are several acceptable methods of upgrading

available. They are restricted to those which have

been successfully subjected to fire tests. Details of

these are available from trade organisations such as

TRADA† and from English Heritage† and in other

practical and technical guides. Whatever method of

22

housing – fire safety


upgrading is being considered, it must be one which

is accompanied by a valid and complete test report

or an assessment report from a suitably qualified

person. The report will specify the fire resistance which

will be achieved by the upgrading method. This is

essential for all upgrading methods but particularly

so where proprietary products are being considered,

and careful scrutiny of the report is essential before

acceptance. When considering a report it is imperative

that the door being considered for upgrading is of a

design and specification corresponding to the door

in the report. When the upgrading is carried out, the

specification on site must correspond in all respects

to that specified in the test or assessment report –

including the specifications for intumescent strips,

smoke seals, self-closers and ironmongery. Variations

may adversely affect the performance of the door.

† TRADA : Stocking Lane, Hughenden Valley, High

Wycombe, HP14 4ND

Website www.trada.co.uk

E-mail: information@trada.co.uk

Phone: 01494 569600

† English Heritage, Customer Services Department,

PO Box 569, Swindon, SN2 2YP

Website www.english-heritage.org.uk

Email: customers@english-heritage.org.uk

Phone: 0870 333 1181

21.10 Where existing upgraded doors are encountered

and no test reports or records are available, it may be

impossible to determine the likely performance of the

door. In these cases, if, following detailed inspection,

a sound comparison cannot be made with a tested

and approved upgrading method (tested on a door of

similar construction and dimensions), then it may be

necessary to replace the door.

22. Automatic fire detection and alarm systems

22.1 The presence of a suitable, properly installed and

maintained automatic fire detection and warning

system will alert occupiers to the presence of a fire

in its early stages and enable them to evacuate to a

place of total safety before the escape routes become

blocked by smoke or directly affected by fire. The

system should wake people who are sleeping (who

may otherwise be asphyxiated by smoke before being

able to escape). It should also alert the presence of

a developing fire in any hidden areas such as boiler

rooms, storerooms, cellars and other potentially

unoccupied risk areas before that fire affects the

escape route.

22.2 The type of system to be provided in a particular

premises is dependent upon risk. A small single family

house will only require a relatively simple provision of

smoke alarms. Larger properties will require greater

coverage, and large HMOs with a number of detectors

will require a more sophisticated system including an

integrated control panel and alarm sounders. Virtually

all residential premises where people are sleeping will

require some form of automatic fire detection and

warning system.

22.3 The type of system installed should be in accordance

with the recommendations of BS 5839: part 6. This

details different grades of system and extent of

coverage and recommends an appropriate system

based on the risk the premises presents. Relatively

simple systems will be satisfactory for smaller, low-risk

premises, but larger houses and HMOs will require a

more sophisticated automatic system. In bedsit HMOs

with cooking facilities within the bedsits and in blocks

of self-contained flats then a mixed system is usually

recommended, where the escape routes and common

parts are protected by an interlinked system of alarms

or detectors and the individual units have a separate

stand-alone system to alert a sleeping occupant of

fire in their own unit of accommodation. This has the

benefit of reducing nuisance/false alarms throughout

the whole property caused by activities such as

cooking within any one unit.

22.4 BS 5839: part 6, The design, installation and servicing

of fire detection and alarm systems in dwellings,

is not a prescriptive standard but is based on the

principles of fire risk assessment. It should be treated

with flexibility. The standards recommended in part 6

table 1 are to be regarded as base guidelines. Those

recommendations will be appropriate for premises of

normal risk, but where the risk is assessed to be lower

or higher than normal then a lower or higher provision

of detection and warning may be appropriate.

22.5. BS 5839: part 6 risk assessment criteria

22.6 General principles:

• system design must be appropriate to the risk;

• in assessing risk, consider each room in the dwelling

separately;

• consider statistical data on fire incidence in each

housing – fire safety 23


type of dwelling/room; and

• occupant characteristics are relevant (for example

tenants with impaired hearing).

both mains and a standby supply, with an element of

central control – for example a small dedicated fire

control panel.

22.7 There is no risk low enough to negate the need for

some form of detection and warning system in the

house.

22.8 Design considerations/grades of system

22.9 BS 5839: part 6 grades fire detection and alarm

systems for residential premises according to the

complexity of the system. For the purpose of

specifying fire detection and alarm systems and the

associated engineering design parameters, there are

six grades. In this guidance grade A and grade D are

most relevant, but all six grades are described in table

C2 for completeness.

Table C2: Grades of automatic fire detection and

warning systems as specified in BS 5839: part 6

(2004)

Grade A: a fire detection and alarm system that

is designed and installed in accordance with the

recommendations of BS 5839: part 1 (2002), except

clauses relating to alarm audibility, alarm warnings for the

hearing-impaired, standby supplies, manual call points and

radio-linked systems, which are replaced by part 6.

This comprises a system of electrically operated smoke

and/or heat detectors which are linked to a control

panel. The control panel must conform to current BS

5839: part 4 (or equivalent). In general the system

must incorporate manual call points which should be

located next to final exits, and, in larger multi-storey

properties, on each landing. The alarm signal must

achieve sound levels of not less than 65dB (A) in all

accessible parts of the building and not less than 75dB

(A) at all bed-heads when all doors are shut, to arouse

sleeping persons.

Grade B: a fire detection and alarm system including

detectors (other than smoke or heat alarms), alarm

sounders and control and indicating equipment which

either conforms to BS EN 54-2 (power supply to BS EN

54-4) or to a simpler type laid out in annexe C of BS

5839: part 6.

Grade C: a system of fire detectors and sounders

(which may be combined in the form of smoke or heat

alarms) connected to a common power supply with

Grade D: a system of one or more mains-powered

smoke (or heat) alarms each with integral battery

standby supply. These are designed to operate in

the event of mains failure and therefore could be

connected to the local lighting circuit rather than an

independent circuit at the dwelling’s main distribution

board. There is no control panel.

Grade E: a system of one or more mains-powered

smoke (or heat) alarms with no standby power supply.

This grade of system will not function if mains power

is disconnected or interrupted. It must therefore be

wired to a dedicated circuit at the dwelling’s main

distribution board.

Grade F: a system of one or more battery-powered

smoke alarms. These are not recommended in HMOs.

note: in grades D, E, and F, where more than one

alarm is installed they must be interlinked.

22.10 Mixed grade systems

Installations where more than one alarm system

is installed to serve the whole building are termed

‘mixed systems’. These systems are installed to meet

differing life safety objectives and may be to differing

grades, having regard for the need to avoid false

alarms from one dwelling unit affecting all occupiers.

Table 1 of BS 5839: part 6 recommends a mixed

system for HMOs of three storeys and above (grade

A for communal areas and grade D within individual

dwelling units). However, for shared house HMOs

of normal risk on the basis of risk assessment, this

guidance does not recommend a mixed system

as detection is not normally recommended within

bedrooms in this type of accommodation.

22.11 Level of protection: types of system

BS 5839: part 6 (2004) recommends various levels of

coverage for detection within premises, based on risk.

These are outlined below in table C3.

Table C3: Levels of coverage of automatic fire

detection and warning systems as specified in BS

5839: part 6 (2004)

24

housing – fire safety


LD1 coverage: a system installed throughout the

dwelling incorporating detectors in all circulation

spaces that form part of the escape routes from the

dwelling, and in all rooms and areas in which fire

might start.

LD2 coverage: a system incorporating detectors in

all circulation spaces that form part of the escape

routes from the dwelling and in all rooms or areas that

present a high fire risk to occupants i.e. risk rooms.

LD3 coverage: a system incorporating detectors in

circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes

from the dwelling only.

22.12 Guidance on grade and coverage of fire detection

and warning systems within various types of existing

residential premises

22.13 As outlined above, when specifying a system

it is necessary to follow the principles of fire risk

assessment. The design and complexity of the system

should reflect the risk presented by the subject

property and the type of occupier.

22.14 The recommendations for system design outlined in

table C4 below are based on a broad risk assessment

using data sourced from BS 5839: part 6 (2004).

The recommendations constitute an acceptable

benchmark and will, in the majority of cases, provide

a reasonable level of protection. However, individual

characteristics of the subject property must always

be considered before specifying a particular system.

The recommendations below are based on properties

considered to present a normal risk for their type.

They will have a suitable level of protection to the

escape route and adequate other fire precautions as

recommended in this guidance. Their occupiers will

not be from high-risk groups. If this is not the case

in the property under consideration then the risk

can be considered as higher, and it may therefore

be considered appropriate to recommend a higher

standard of fire detection and warning or provide

additional fire safety measures as appropriate to the

case. For clarification of use of the term ‘storey’, see

the glossary.

Table C4: Recommended grade and coverage of

automatic fire detection and warning system

for various categories of existing residential

premises (normal risk)

Single household occupancy up to four storeys

Grade D: LD3 coverage (interlinked)

Single household occupancy five or six storeys

Grade A: LD3 coverage

Shared house HMO of up to two storeys (shared

cooking facilities)

Grade D: LD3 coverage + additional detection to

the kitchen, lounge and any cellar containing a risk

(interlinked)

Shared house HMO of three or four storeys

(shared cooking facilities)

Grade D: LD3 coverage + additional detection to

the kitchen, lounge and any cellar containing a risk

(interlinked)

Shared house HMO of five or six storeys (shared

cooking facilities)

Grade A: LD2 coverage (detection in all risk rooms i.e.

bedrooms, kitchen and lounge) (interlinked)

Bedsit HMO of one or two storeys with individual

cooking facilities within bedsits

A mixed system:

• Grade D: LD2 coverage in the common areas and

heat detectors in bedsits (interlinked)

• Grade D smoke alarm in each bedsit to protect the

sleeping occupants (non-interlinked)

Bedsit HMO of three to six storeys with individual

cooking facilities within bedsits

A mixed system:

• Grade A: LD2 coverage in the common areas and

heat detectors in bedsits (interlinked)

• Grade D smoke alarm in each bedsit to protect the

sleeping occupants (non-interlinked)

Two-storey house converted to self-contained

flats (prior to Building Regulations 1991,

approved document B standard)

A mixed system:

• Grade D: LD2 coverage in the common areas and a

heat detector in each flat in the room/lobby opening

onto the escape route (interlinked)

• Grade D: LD3 coverage in each flat (non-interlinked

smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the

escape route) to protect the sleeping occupants

Three- to six-storey house converted to selfcontained

flats (prior to Building Regulations

1991, approved document B standard)

• Grade A: LD2 coverage in the common areas and a

heat detector in each flat in the room/lobby opening

housing – fire safety 25


onto the escape route (interlinked)

• Grade D: LD3 coverage in each flat (non-interlinked

smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the

escape route) to protect the sleeping occupants

Building converted partly into self-contained flats

and partly into bedsits or non-self-contained lets

A mixed system:

• Apply the appropriate recommendation for each

unit of accommodation from this table and the

appropriate whole-house system based on the

storey height

Flat in multiple occupation (FMO) (any storey

height and regardless of date of construction/

conversion)

Grade D: LD3 coverage + additional heat detector in

the kitchen (and shared living room depending on risk)

23. Lighting of escape routes

23.1 When a fire occurs, people will be escaping in haste

and in a probable state of distress or even panic. At

night, when they have been awoken abruptly, they

may be disorientated. With this is mind, the staircase

and escape route must be adequately lit.

arrangements will usually be adequate, subject to the

above conditions. In HMOs (including shared houses)

of three or four storeys, it may be appropriate to

provide emergency escape lighting throughout the

escape route if the route is long or complex or where

there is no effective borrowed light. For all HMOs of

five or six storeys then emergency escape lighting is

recommended, as the escape route will be long and

may be complex.

23.5 The recommendations for lighting of escape routes

outlined in table C5 below are based on a broad risk

assessment. The recommendations constitute an

acceptable benchmark and will, in the majority of

cases, provide a reasonable level of safety. However, the

recommendations are based on buildings considered

to present a normal risk for their type. They will have

a suitable level of protection to the escape route and

adequate other fire precautions as recommended in this

guidance. Some buildings (such as the examples quoted

in paragraph 23.2) will require a higher specification of

lighting in the escape route. Again, for clarification of

use of the term ‘storey’, see the glossary.

Table C5: Recommendations for lighting of

escape routes for various categories of existing

residential premises (normal risk)

23.2 In common escape routes including stairways,

conventional artificial lighting with a suitable system

of control should be provided so that people are able

to move within the escape route from a building

during the hours of darkness (and during the day in

areas that do not have the benefit of daylight). Some

buildings will, in addition, require emergency escape

lighting in the escape route. These will include:

• large buildings with long escape routes;

• buildings with a complex layout;

• buildings with no natural or borrowed lighting along

the escape route; and

• buildings with vulnerable occupiers or those posing

a specific risk.

23.3 In most single household properties conventional

lighting arrangements should be adequate, subject

to the above conditions. However, in larger single

household properties, emergency escape lighting may

be required if the escape route is complex and/or there

is no effective borrowed light.

23.4 In buildings of up to two storeys conventional lighting

Single household occupancy up to two storeys

Conventional lighting

Single household occupancy three to six storeys

Conventional lighting. Emergency escape lighting

maybe appropriate if route is complex and there is

no effective borrowed light

Shared house HMO of up to two storeys (shared

cooking facilities)

Conventional lighting

Shared house HMO of three or four storeys

(shared cooking facilities)

Conventional lighting. Emergency escape lighting

maybe appropriate if route is complex and there is

no effective borrowed light

Shared house HMO of five or six storeys (shared

cooking facilities)

Conventional lighting and emergency escape

lighting

Bedsit HMO of one to four storeys with individual

cooking facilities within bedsits

Conventional lighting (and emergency escape

26

housing – fire safety


lighting if risk requires or there is no effective

borrowed light)

Bedsit HMO of five or six storeys with individual

cooking facilities within bedsits

Conventional lighting and emergency escape

lighting

Two, three or four storey house converted to

self-contained flats (prior to Building Regulations

1991, approved document B standard)

Conventional lighting (and emergency escape

lighting if risk requires)

Five or six storey house converted to selfcontained

flats (prior to Building Regulations

1991, approved document B standard)

Conventional lighting and emergency escape

lighting

Two, three or four storey building converted

partly into self-contained flats and partly into

bedsits or non-self-contained lets

Conventional lighting (and emergency escape

lighting if risk requires)

Five or six storey building converted partly into

self-contained flats and partly into bedsits or

non-self-contained lets

Conventional lighting and emergency escape

lighting

Flat in multiple occupation (FMO) occupying

a single storey of a building (at any storey

height and regardless of date of construction/

conversion)

Conventional lighting (and emergency escape

lighting if risk requires – may also be required in the

common escape route)

Flat in multiple occupation (FMO) occupying

more than one storey of a building (any

level and regardless of date of construction/

conversion)

Conventional lighting (and emergency escape

lighting if risk requires – may also be required in the

common escape route)

23.6 For conventional lighting most existing arrangements

will be adequate, with the following conditions:

• light switches/controls should be obvious, simple

and visible under all conditions;

• switches should be located on every landing in a

convenient and conventional position;

• in HMOs (except smaller shared houses) a dedicated

lighting circuit should be installed so that the use of

any one switch/control anywhere along the route

will illuminate the entire escape route. However, in

large properties where the escape route is divided

into distinct, separated sections, each section may

have its own control provided it is obvious and

visible under all conditions. In such cases (and where

there is no borrowed light to the route) the switches

themselves should be illuminated. The rule is that it

should never be necessary to search for switches.

23.7 If push-button, slow release lighting switches are to

be used, careful consideration must be given to their

duration setting. This should be assessed according

to risk (i.e. the distance of travel to a safe place or

final exit, the height of building, the complexity of the

escape route and mobility of the occupiers). Where

occupiers have limited mobility, time release switches

should be avoided. In all other cases the duration

must be adequate to allow a normal, orderly escape

from the building and incorporate some degree of

redundancy. The rule here is that people should never

be plunged into darkness while using the route.

23.8 Theft of light bulbs from common areas is a problem

experienced in some properties. If this is likely to be

a problem, bulb holders with a different fitting to

those within the accommodation units should be used

(screw holders, for example). This is good practice

and should be standard in bedsit-type HMOs. The use

of long-life, low-energy light bulbs throughout the

property also reduces the frequency of replacement,

thereby helping to reduce this problem.

24. Emergency escape route lighting

24.1 Where considered necessary, emergency escape

lighting must be designed to comply with BS 5266.

24.2 It will automatically illuminate upon the failure of the

power supply to the conventional artificial lighting,

when it must:

• illuminate the escape route to assist the occupants

to move easily to exits and a place of safety;

• highlight any hazards such as stairs and changes in

floor level or direction; and

• enable easy identification of any fire alarm call

points and fire fighting equipment throughout the

escape route.

housing – fire safety 27


24.3 Emergency lighting must operate not only when there is

complete failure of the supply to the conventional artificial

lighting, but also when there is a localised power failure

within the lighting circuit that could be hazardous. The

source of the power supply to the emergency lighting

should be from the same local fuse as the conventional

escape route lighting, so that in the event of that fuse

failing, causing the normal lighting to fail, the emergency

lighting will be brought into operation in the same locality.

reasonably uniformly lit.

24.9 It is essential that the emergency lighting system

is routinely inspected and tested. Detailed

recommendations are contained in BS 5266 and

discussed in paragraph 32.8.

25. Fire fighting equipment (portable)

24.4 In most cases self-contained, non-maintained luminaires

providing three-hour duration will be adequate.

Non-maintained luminaires remain unlit when the

conventional lighting power supply is healthy. When

it fails, the luminaire provides power to its own lamp

from its own battery and illuminates. Restoration of the

conventional lighting power supply switches off the

emergency luminaire and recharges its battery.

24.5 Emergency lighting systems are categorised as

maintained or non-maintained followed by their

duration of illumination. So a non-maintained system

with three-hour duration will be categorised as NM/3.

24.6 The power supply to the luminaires should be

designed to prevent unauthorised disconnection, but

it must incorporate a suitable means for simulating a

mains failure (i.e. a test switch).

24.7 The mounting height of luminaires will be governed

by the physical characteristics of the building. They

should be mounted close to two metres above

floor level (when measured to the underside of the

luminaire) but not lower than two metres.

24.8 Luminaires should be sited in the following positions:

• near any intersection of corridors;

• above each final exit door;

• near each change of direction (other than on a

stairway);

• within each stairway so that each flight of stairs

receives direct light;

• near any change of floor level;

• outside any secondary escape exit if the street

lighting is poor;

• near each fire alarm call point; and

• near fire fighting equipment.

‘Near’ is normally considered to be within two metres

when measured horizontally. The route should be

25.1 The provision of fire blankets and simple fire

extinguishers can be useful in restricting the

development and spread of small fires in their early

stages. However, unless a fire is very small, the best

advice is to evacuate the building to a place of safety

and call the fire and rescue service. This is because for

larger fires people need training to know what type

of fire an extinguisher can safely be used on, how

to tackle a fire safely, and when to give up and get

out. The installation of extinguishers can also lead to

problems if they are not properly maintained or where

equipment is discharged through malice or horseplay.

For these reasons extinguishers are not recommended

inside units of accommodation unless there are

resident staff who are trained in their use (a caretaker,

housekeeper, warden or similar).

In order to provide a facility for extinguishing small

fires in their early stages, a simple multi-purpose

extinguisher is recommended on each floor in the

common parts of HMOs and buildings containing

flats. It will not usually be practical to train tenants in

the use of these, but basic advice should be offered at

the start of each new tenancy.

25.2 Fire blankets are recommended as good practice in

kitchens of all premises covered by this guide, including

single household occupation and bedsit rooms.

25.3 Fire blankets should:

• comply with BS 6575 or equivalent;

• be of ‘light duty’ type which are capable of dealing

with small fires such as cooking fires or fires

involving clothing; and

• be mounted on the wall approximately 1.5m high

and closer to the room exit than the cooking facility.

25.4 Where provided, fire extinguishers should:

• comply with BS EN 3-7;

• be maintained in accordance with BS 5306-3 (see

paragraph 32.7); and

28

housing – fire safety


• be appropriate to the risk.

25.5 Extinguishers should be located as follows:

• on a dedicated stand or hung on wall brackets with

the handle approximately 1.5m from floor level;

• in a position such that they do not obstruct the

escape route;

• close to the exit position from each floor;

• not obstructed by opening doors and not in recesses

out of sight; and

• away from heaters or areas where they may be

subject to damage.

26. Automatic water suppression systems

26.1 Interest in the use of water suppression systems for

domestic premises is growing in the UK. The use of

these systems in the United States and other parts of

the world has proved their value in saving lives and

reducing damage caused to property by fire. A water

suppression system will detect, give warning, control,

contain and often extinguish a fire.

26.2 The traditional concerns expressed regarding damage

from accidental activation of water suppression

systems can largely be discounted. The quantity

of water discharged by a suppression head when

activated in a fire is significantly less than that

disgorged in fire fighting by the fire and rescue

service. In general, a water suppression system will

use between 1/100th and 1/1000th of the water

used by the fire and rescue service (source: Residential

Sprinklers Association). Statistics show that accidental

operation occurs in one in 16 million cases (source:

West Midlands Fire Service guidance document for

design freedoms in houses in multiple occupation

incorporating residential sprinkler systems).

26.3 It is recommended that serious consideration be

given to the role water suppression systems can play

in existing residential accommodation. Historically,

the main barrier to their installation has been cost.

Whilst cost effective in new-build property or when

installed during major refurbishment, the retro-fitting

of water suppression systems in existing, occupied

residential accommodation does need a considered

cost/benefit analysis. However, the wider benefits of

suppression and the cost savings resulting from any

design freedoms offered in respect of other fire safety

measures may work in their favour.

26.4 General description: a water suppression system is

designed to cover a predetermined floor area. Fire

suppression system supply pipes are permanently

charged with water, fed from the domestic water main

or storage tanks. Fire suppression heads are fitted to

the system of supply pipes, and each is an independent

unit and operates only if a fire causes it to do so.

26.5 Suppression heads are fitted with small thermal

elements that are activated solely by heat. The thermal

element is set to operate at a fixed temperature, not

less than 30ºC above ambient temperature, which

makes it highly unlikely to operate other than in a fire

condition. The exception is malicious operation and

if the fire risk assessment indicates that this is likely,

a water suppression system may not be appropriate.

In the majority of fires just one suppression head is

operated, which is often sufficient to deal with the fire.

26.6 Potential uses: there is potential for water suppression

systems to be fitted in all types of existing residential

accommodation. The decision to do so will be based on:

• a cost/benefit analysis of the overall benefit gained

from their provision against the cost of installation

and maintenance;

• the practicability of their installation;

• the extent of design freedoms available in terms of

reduced compensatory provision of other fire safety

measures; and

• their potential for fulfilling a need where traditional

fire safety measures cannot be provided to the

full recommended standard, for example where

extended travel distances cannot be reduced to the

recommended maximum or where fire protecting

lobbies cannot be installed.

26.7 When considering a water suppression system, regard

must be paid to the adequacy of the water supply

and mains water pressure. If interruptions to supplies

are possible or the water pressure is low or fluctuates,

then additional measures such as pumping and water

storage may be required – or indeed the installation

may not be feasible.

26.8 Potential design freedoms: water suppression systems

are not a fire safety solution in themselves. In isolation

they cannot provide an acceptable level of fire safety in

residential accommodation to meet the requirements

of current legislation (see Appendix 1). However, as

part of a comprehensive overall fire risk assessment

they can be a key component in the overall solution

and can contribute to a safe building. In particular the

housing – fire safety 29


provision of a suitable water suppression system can,

in some circumstances, allow for relaxed provision of

certain other fire safety measures (but not all). Some

examples of design freedoms which have been applied

include reduced fire separation/compartmentation,

an alternative to a secondary means of escape where

impracticable, extended travel distances and relaxed

requirements for inner rooms. However, the provision

of automatic fire detection and warning systems cannot

be relaxed. These must still be provided as adequate

early warning of a fire is always essential.

26.9 These trade-offs or ‘design freedoms’ are not

prescribed in any statutory guidance and must be

agreed with the relevant local housing authority,

building control authority and fire and rescue authority

for each individual case. Each case will have different

factors and must be considered on its own merits. A

blanket approach to the allowance of design freedoms

should not be applied.

26.10 Standards for water suppression systems: where a

water suppression system is agreed upon, its design,

installation and maintenance should be in accordance

with BS 9251:2005 or another equivalent standard

approved by the enforcing authority. Approval of the

type of system and its design should be sought from

the enforcing authority prior to installation.

26.11 Installation should be carried out only by experienced

sprinkler contractors who are suitably qualified and

registered with an appropriate sprinkler association

or third party accreditation scheme such as LPS

1048 scheme requirements for certificated sprinkler

installers, supervising bodies and supervised installers.

The installer must provide information to the landlord

as detailed in clause 6.3.2 of BS 9251:2005.

More detailed guidance on water suppression

systems can be found in A guide to automatic water

suppression systems (AWSS) and their practical

application (Chief Fire Officers Association).

27. Fire safety signs

27.1 In most residential premises of average size and

normal risk, fire safety signs and notices will not be

required. However, in larger premises or those with

complicated layouts or with alternative exits, the

fire risk assessment is likely to indicate some need

for signage. The need for clear information should

be balanced with the desire to maintain a homely

environment. The excessive provision of signage can

create an ‘institutional’ feel to a building, which is

undesirable in premises which are people’s homes.

27.2 When determining whether fire safety signage should

be provided, consideration should be given to the

following criteria when carrying out the fire risk

assessment:

• are all occupiers likely to be familiar with the escape

route?

• which route offers the shortest travel distance?

• are there any changes in direction in corridors,

stairways and open spaces which form part of the

escape route?

• will people ever need to exit the building by a

different route from which they entered?

• is there a choice of escape routes?

• are there any areas where confusion may occur

when exiting the building?

• is there an external secondary means of escape to a

place of safety?

• are there any facilities or equipment provided for fire

safety that may need appropriate signage?

27.3 These considerations will determine whether fire

safety signage is necessary. In general this will mean

that signage will not be necessary in single family

houses of any type or in smaller shared houses and

HMOs with single, simple escape routes. However,

if confusion is likely for any reason, the final exit(s)

should be provided with a sign. In larger HMOs (of

more than three storeys), those with complex or

unusual layouts and those with multiple exits, signage

will be required. In particular the following situations

will require directional signage:

• the final exit;

• where there is more than one exit;

• where there is a secondary means of escape (for

example an external staircase or roof-level exit);

• where there is a change of direction and the onward

escape route it is not visible; and

• where there is any potential for confusion.

27.4 Any fire fighting equipment which is obscured from

view should be indicated with a sign.

27.5 Generally in a domestic setting the placing of fire door

signage on room doors is unpopular and unnecessary.

However, fire-resisting doors across escape routes and

doors to communal kitchens and other communal

30

housing – fire safety


ooms in HMOs should be marked ‘Fire door keep

shut’ (see figure C9). Doors to cupboards, stores and

boiler rooms opening onto the escape route should be

marked ‘Fire door keep locked shut’. These provisions

can be relaxed in normal-risk shared houses.

27.6 Where fire safety signs are provided they should be in

accordance with BS 5499 and the Health and Safety

(Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

27.7 To comply, directional signs must be pictographic

(see examples C7 and C8 below). The pictogram

can be supplemented by text to make the sign easily

understood, but it cannot contain only text. ‘Pictogram

only’ and ‘pictogram with text’ sign types should not be

mixed in the same premises. Whilst either type of sign is

acceptable, the pictogram with text style (figure C7) is

thought to be more readily understood.

Figure C7: Directional escape sign (pictogram with text)

Figure C8: Directional escape sign (pictogram only)

Figure C9: Notice for fire resisting doors

27.8 Where the risk is such that directional signs indicating

the escape route are considered necessary, they should

meet the following criteria:

• they should provide clear, unambiguous information

to enable people to safely leave a building in an

emergency;

• every escape route sign should, where necessary,

either incorporate or be accompanied by a directional

arrow (arrows should not be used on their own);

• in long or complex escape routes, signs should be

positioned so that a person escaping will always

have the next escape route sign in sight;

• signs should be fixed above the door in the direction

of escape and not be fixed to doors, as they will not

be visible if the door is open;

• signs mounted above doors should be at a height of

between 2m and 2.5m above the floor;

• signs on walls should be mounted between 1.7m

and 2m above the floor;

• mounting heights greater than 2.5m may be used

for hanging signs (for example in large open spaces

or for operational reasons) but care should be taken

to ensure that such signs are both conspicuous and

legible. In such cases larger signs may be necessary;

• signs within the same premises should follow a

consistent design pattern or scheme throughout; and

• signs should be sited at the same height throughout

the escape route, as far as is reasonably practicable.

28. Surface finishes

28.1 In the early stages of a fire, the safety of a building’s

occupants can be affected by the properties of surface

linings and the finishes of walls, ceilings and soffits.

Rapid spread of flame across surfaces allows the fire

to spread more quickly through the building, thereby

reducing the time for escape. This is of particular

concern in escape routes, especially in single staircase

buildings. Arson is a particular problem in this respect:

fires started deliberately can be particularly dangerous

because they generally develop much faster. In multioccupancy

buildings they are often started in escape

routes, as access is more easily gained to these areas.

28.2 In single household occupancy and some shared

houses where the occupiers have exclusive control

of the escape route, the risk may be low. No specific

measures will therefore be required in respect of

surface finishes. However, good practice would be

to reduce the risk further by avoiding combustible

surface finishes within the escape route.

28.3 In multiple-occupancy buildings the risk is usually

higher. Combustible surface finishes should not be

permitted within the escape route and should, as far

as is practicable, also be avoided in other locations.

However, in some HMOs the risk may be lowered by

other fire precautions, such as in:

• two-storey buildings with suitable escape windows

from all risk rooms (see paragraph 14);

• buildings where there is a second staircase or

secondary means of escape which meets certain

standards (see paragraphs 17-18); and

housing – fire safety 31


• buildings with additional fire safety measures such

as a water suppression system.

locations for materials and products commonly

encountered.

In such cases the premises may be considered lower

risk and the precautions outlined below in respect of

surface finishes and floor coverings could be varied

accordingly.

28.4 Materials are classified for combustibility and surface

spread of flame by BS 476: parts 6 and 7 or under the

European system by BS EN 13501-1.

28.5 Fire spread across surface finishes is classified as set

out in table C6 below, with class 0 being the most

resistant and class 3 the least. Classes 0-3 (or A-D) are

suitable in multi-occupied residential accommodation,

but should be restricted in some locations. Table C6

outlines their suitability for different locations within a

multi-occupied property.

Table C6: Suitable classes of surface finish in

certain locations in multi-occupied residential

buildings

Class 0, B s3, d2

These are non-combustible materials and materials

of limited combustibility such as brickwork, concrete,

plasterboard and plastered finishes.

Acceptable in all locations including protected

routes, circulation routes, escape routes and

stairways.

Class 1, C s3, d2

These include timber, particleboard, hardboard and

surfaces covered with heavy flock wallpaper, provided

they have been treated with flame retardant materials.

Acceptable in rooms.

Class 3, D s3, d2

These include those specified in class 1 with the

addition of thermosetting plastics and surfaces

covered with polystyrene wall and ceiling tiles.

Not acceptable on escape routes and stairways.

Acceptable in small rooms and parts of other rooms

if the total area does not exceed more than one half

of the floor area up to a maximum of 20m².

Not acceptable on escape routes and stairways.

28.7 Multiple layers of gloss paint: surfaces may be found

where multiple layers of gloss paint have been applied.

These surfaces may present a risk of fire spread.

Therefore it is recommended that the paint is removed

from locations requiring a class 1 (or C s3, d2) or class

0 (C s3, d2) classification. Proprietary products may be

available which can cover the paint, thereby providing

an acceptable classification for the surface. These

should only be used subject to a satisfactory fire test

report but may not be suitable for areas subject to

heavy wear and tear.

29. Floor coverings

29.1 Floor coverings throughout the protected route

(i.e. stairways, hallways, landings and lobbies) of all

categories of HMO should conform to low radius of

fire spread (up to 35mm) when tested in accordance

with BS 4790 or the European equivalent. It is good

practice to adhere to this in all categories of HMO,

although in lower risk shared houses this requirement

may be relaxed.

29.2 BS 5287 Specification for assessment and labelling of

textile floor coverings tested to BS 4790 specifies how

these tested floor coverings should be labelled.

29.3 It is, of course, difficult to assess existing floor

coverings in HMOs unless the supplier/manufacturer

can be traced. As a general guide for existing carpets,

those comprising a mix of 80% wool and 20%

synthetic fibre (commonly referred to as 80/20 carpets)

will comply. Many vinyl, linoleum and laminate floor

coverings may not be suitable and will need replacing.

29.4 When considering the suitability of new floor

coverings for protected routes it is sufficient to

ensure they are labelled to BS 5287 or the European

equivalent as low radius of fire spread (up to 35mm).

Suppliers/manufacturers will be able to verify this (or

otherwise).

30. Special provisions relating to ‘back-to-back’

houses

28.6 It is very difficult to identify the classification of

existing coverings on-site unless the trade name of the

product can be traced. Table C6 illustrates acceptable

30.1 In certain areas of the country there remain a

significant number of ‘back-to-back’ houses. These

typically back directly onto one another at the party

32

housing – fire safety


wall and have other houses either side. This means

there is only one exit from the house and the escape

route inevitably passes through a risk room. This

arrangement should be avoided wherever possible,

but it is recognised that significant numbers of

these houses do still exist and they make a valuable

contribution to affordable housing supply. Any risk

assessment carried out on a back-to-back house will

identify higher than normal risk and will recommend

special fire precautions accordingly. Back-to-back

houses are restricted to certain areas of the country

and LHAs and FRAs have developed local fire safety

solutions for the types of houses in their areas, taking

account of local building design and local need.

Because of their specialist nature it is not appropriate

to offer complete solutions to apply nationally in this

guidance, as layouts and situations vary and the risk

assessment must take account of this and recommend

solutions as appropriate. While some basic solutions

are outlined here for the sake of completeness, local

guidance may be more comprehensive.

30.2 Solutions for back-to-back houses will inevitably rely

heavily on the following main principles:

• the provision of a suitable escape window at first

floor level accessible to all occupiers of the upper

floors (see paragraph 14). Because of the design of

this type of house it may not be possible to provide

more than one escape window from the first floor.

Where this is the case and the escape window is

from a habitable room, the door to that room must

not be fitted with locks and any tenancy agreement

should ideally prohibit the fitting of locks (unless of

a type that can be overridden from outside the room

without the need for a key, tool or code);

• a suitable automatic fire detection and warning

system. The grade and coverage of the system

will depend on the risk the house presents (see

paragraph 22.12 and table C4);

• an appropriate degree of fire separation between

the ground floor and the upper floors. Full

30-minute separation will usually be appropriate

with a FD30S fire door at the foot of the stairs

leading from the ground floor to the first floor; and

• where a basement or cellar exists then the guidance

in paragraphs 10 and 11 should be applied, with

higher standards of separation as appropriate in the

higher risk back-to-back properties.

30.3 Where the conditions for escape windows cannot be

met (see paragraph 14), other solutions will need to

be adopted and may include the construction of a

30-minute protected escape route inside the house,

60-minute separation between the ground and first

floors, the installation of a water suppression system

(see paragraph 26) and the setting of conditions

relating to facilities for calling the fire and rescue

service in an emergency (for example linking the fire

alarm system to a monitoring centre or the FRA).

A sample case study is given in Part D at paragraph 39

(D15), page 50.

30.4 This type of housing presents a particular risk, and

some LHAs and FRAs may require alternative solutions

including higher standards where appropriate.

31. Mixed commercial and residential use

31.1 Residential accommodation is often situated above

or within commercial premises. Any fire in the

commercial premises will affect the residential parts,

and at night may not be noticed until well developed.

The risk assessment will assess how high the risk from

the commercial premises is, but it may be significantly

higher than the risk from the residential parts (for

example where the accommodation is above a pub,

restaurant or dry cleaners).

31.2 Generally there should be 60-minute imperforate

separation between the two uses. In lower risk

commercial premises it may be possible to reduce

this to 30 minutes where there is an automatic

fire detection system in the commercial parts

which is linked to the residential system. In higher

risk premises, even where 60-minute separation

is achieved it may still be appropriate to provide

an automatic fire detection system linked to the

residential system.

31.3 In some cases imperforate separation proves

impracticable to achieve, for example with some

accommodation above pubs. In these cases

compensatory measures should be considered such

as fire protecting lobbies between the two uses, a

secondary means of escape, or in high-risk situations a

water suppression system in the commercial premises.

32. Management and maintenance of fire safety

32.1 Whatever physical fire safety measures are provided

in residential accommodation, their effectiveness

housing – fire safety 33


will only be as good as their management and

maintenance. While single household dwellings will

generally be self-managing, HMO accommodation

will require ongoing attention to ensure fire safety

measures remain effective. This section outlines

management and maintenance measures applicable

to HMOs. The responsible person (the licensee,

landlord or managing agent) has a duty to ensure

that the day-to-day management of fire safety in the

premises is properly undertaken and that essential

routine maintenance and emergency repairs are

properly carried out. This is not only common sense

and good practice, but also an obligation in law for

those premises to which The Management of Houses

in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006 and the FSO

apply (see Appendix 1, paragraphs A.45 and A.51).

32.2 The level of management attention required will

be determined as part of the fire risk assessment.

Detailed recommendations are to be found in the

HM Government Fire Safety Risk Assessment Sleeping

Accommodation Guide. These recommendations may

be appropriate in very large and complex buildings,

but not all will apply fully for the average residential

accommodation of normal risk covered by this guide.

32.3 Guidance on best practice in fire safety management

can be found in BS 5588, part 12: 2004 Fire

precautions in the design, construction and use

of buildings – managing fire safety, but the points

outlined below should be expected in any acceptable

fire risk assessment as a minimum.

• all doors should be close fitting as designed. Fire

doors should never be propped or wedged open.

Any damage to fire doors should be noted and

repaired. Any damaged or missing smoke seals must

be replaced like-for-like.

32.5 Automatic fire detection (AFD) and warning systems:

BS 5839: part 1, section 6 contains recommendations

for regular, routine testing of AFD systems as follows:

Grade A systems

• Routine testing – at least one detector or call point

in each zone should be tested weekly to ensure

correct operation of the system. Any defect should

be recorded in the log book and action taken to

correct it.

• Routine maintenance – a six-monthly service should

be carried out by a competent person, usually a

specialist alarm engineer, under a maintenance

contract. It entails a full test to ensure compliance

as specified in with BS 5839: part 1, section 6. It

should be recorded in the log book and a periodic

inspection and test certificate issued.

Grade D and E systems

• Routine testing – these systems should be tested

every month by use of the test button on the smoke

alarm.

• Routine maintenance – all alarms should be cleaned

periodically in accordance with the manufacturer’s

recommendations.

32.4 Escape routes:

• must be free from obstruction at all times, and

regular checks should be made to guarantee this;

• there should be no free storage on the escape

routes;

• there should be no trip hazards such as trailing

electrical leads or worn carpets;

• in most cases fire-resisting doors should be

effectively self-closing to engage their latches with

no obstructions or hindrances such as catching

carpets. This will always be the case in bedsit-type

HMOs. However, the requirement for self-closers is

considered unnecessary in some situations, such as

individual room doors within flats (the flat entrance

door will still require one), within single household

occupancies, and in smaller low-risk shared houses.

The use of self-closers in these situations has proved

impracticable and has often rendered the doors

ineffective;

All systems

• It is recommended that all detectors should be

tested at least once a year to ensure that they

respond to smoke. Tests should not involve the use

of open flame or any form of smoke or non-specific

aerosol that could contaminate the detection

chamber or the electronics of the detector. Suitable

specific test aerosols are available. The test is usually

carried out by a specialist alarm engineer under a

maintenance contract and should be recorded in

the log book, with a periodic inspection and test

certificate issued.

32.6 It is recognised that the above arrangements represent

the ideal. While they may be possible in buildings

with a resident landlord or a dedicated caretaker

or housekeeper, in most situations for premises

covered by this guide such arrangements may be

impracticable. Where this proves to be the case

34

housing – fire safety


tenants should be given clear instructions on how

to test grade D or E alarms within their dwelling

using the test button, along with clear recording and

reporting instructions for any faults or false alarms on

the system. Grade A systems are more specialist and

resident testing will be inappropriate unless there is a

trained individual in the property. Clear fault and false

alarm reporting arrangements should be put in place,

and the responsible person or his/her agent should

respond to reports at the earliest opportunity.

32.7 Fire blankets and extinguishers:

• where provided, these should be checked

periodically to make sure they are in place and

available for use. Extinguishers must be tested and

maintained on an annual basis in accordance with

BS 5306-3 and with the manufacturer’s instructions.

32.8 Artificial lighting:

• conventional staircase lighting must be working

properly at all times. Any blown bulbs should be

replaced and all switches should be working. If timer

switches are fitted then the duration should be

checked and adjusted if necessary; and

• any emergency escape lighting should be serviced

and maintained in accordance with BS 5266-8: 2004

(BS EN 50172: 2004) Emergency escape lighting

systems. This contains detailed recommendations

which include inspections and tests to be carried

out, down to a daily basis. For large, complex

HMOs (such as those with five or six storeys) or

premises with a specific high-risk factor (persistent

vandalism problems, for example, or complex escape

routes and no effective borrowed light), the full

recommendations may be appropriate. However, in

most average sized premises with normal risk, the

following regime with a procedure for responding to

reports of defects should be adequate:

• an annual discharge test in accordance with the

requirements of BS 5266: part 8. This must be

carried out by a competent person, usually a lighting

engineer under a maintenance contract. It entails a

full test to ensure compliance with the standard and

should be recorded in the log book, with a periodic

inspection and test certificate issued.

32.9 Water suppression systems:

• where provided, the responsible person must

ensure that any water suppression system is

fully maintained and ready for use at all times.

The landlord should enter into a maintenance

contract with a competent person or company to

maintain the system in accordance with clause 7

(maintenance) of BS 9251;

• the responsible person must ensure that the system

is fully functional at all times and that any defects

are rectified as soon as possible;

• the responsible person should check the pressure

gauge readings monthly and record these readings

in the systems log book. Any significant fluctuations

or pressure readings below the agreed system

design must be rectified immediately; and

• the system log book must be used to record all

actuations, testing, maintenance, system faults and

any remedial action.

32.10 Gas installations (see Appendix 1, paragraph A.67):

• The Gas Safety (Installation and use) Regulations

1998 require that gas installations and appliances

are maintained in safe condition and good working

order and receive a gas safety check annually.

The gas safety check and any other work to the

installation may only be carried out by a competent

and registered engineer. The findings must be

recorded and the records kept for at least two years.

32.11 Electrical installations (see Appendix 1, paragraph

A.73):

• the electrical installation should be installed

and maintained by a competent person and

should be inspected periodically by a competent

electrical engineer. An inspection every five years

is recommended for all types of premises and is a

legal requirement in HMOs under the Management

of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England)

Regulations 2006 (see Appendix 1, paragraph A.45).

32.12 Electrical appliances:

• letting agents and landlords should check all

electrical appliances at the start of each new

tenancy for defects (for example frayed wiring or

badly fitted plugs) and remove any unsafe items;

• it is good practice to have the equipment checked

at regular intervals thereafter, but there is no legal

requirement to do so unless appliances are used by

employees;

• records should be kept of the checks carried out;

• instruction booklets should be available at the

property for all appliances and any necessary safety

warnings should be given to tenants; and

• second-hand electrical appliances should not

be supplied, but if they are then they should be

checked by a competent electrical engineer.

housing – fire safety 35


32.13 Furniture and furnishings regulations (see Appendix

1, paragraph A.61):

• all furniture within lettings commencing after

1 January 1997 must meet fire resistance

requirements. However, the regulations do not apply

to furniture made before 1950 and re-upholstered

furniture made before that date;

• all new furniture (except mattresses and bed bases)

must carry a permanent label stating that it complies

with the fire resistance standards. However, absence

of such a label does not mean that the furniture does

not comply, as the label may have been removed

after the furniture was supplied. Some furniture

manufactured before the regulations were applied

may comply with the requirements anyway; and

• landlords and managing agents must ensure that

the furniture supplied meets the fire resistance

requirements, and the only practical way of doing

so is to ensure that the furniture is labelled by

the manufacturer in this way. If this cannot be

ascertained then the furniture should be replaced.

32.14 Information and training:

• each occupier should be given specific advice on

fire prevention and fire safety in the home. This

should be provided at the start of each new tenancy

and reviewed periodically. Suitable advice can be

found in annexe one of BS 5588: part 12, Advice

to occupiers of domestic residential buildings, and

advice is also available from local fire and rescue

authorities. Information should include:

• an explanation of the escape routes, particularly

where secondary means of escape is provided;

• how the fire detection and alarm system operates

and what to do if it activates;

• how and when to re-set the fire alarm system;

• if extinguishers or fire blankets are provided,

training in their application and safe use;

• avoidance of false alarms;

• how and when to call the fire brigade;

• how to report defects;

• the importance of maintaining clear escape

routes, free of storage;

• the importance of keeping fire doors closed, not

propped or wedged open;

• smoking and cooking safety;

• gas safety advice;

• safe storage and disposal of refuse; and

• the safe use of escape windows where

appropriate.

32.15 Record keeping:

• it is recommended that a property log book is kept

and all routine maintenance and servicing activity

(as recommended in this guide) is recorded in it,

along with all reported defects and remedial action

taken – including false alarms. Model log books may

be available from landlords associations or through

landlord accreditation schemes.

Part D: Some risk-based case studies of

fire safety solutions in certain categories

of residential accommodation

33. Introduction

33.1 This chapter considers some commonly encountered

types of residential premises and provides suggested

fire safety solutions which could be applied to achieve

a reasonable and acceptable standard of fire safety in

each. In each case the solutions are based on a fire risk

assessment. If the fire safety measures recommended

are applied to buildings of similar risk, those buildings

should meet the requirements of the legislation

applying to them as outlined in Appendix 1. If the

recommendations and risk methodology of this guide

are applied, no additional works should be necessary

to meet any of the requirements.

The recommendations in this chapter must be read in

conjunction with Part C, which gives more details on

individual provisions and applies some conditions to

these recommendations.

33.2 The solutions recommended here are considered

to be the most conventional and practical for most

situations. There is no obligation to adopt these

exact solutions, and it is possible that the relevant

requirement can be met in some other way. However,

any alternative arrangement will need to achieve

at least an equivalent level of fire safety, and the

responsible person will need to demonstrate that this

is the case. The interaction between the individual

fire safety measures is key. Where a higher standard

of protection is provided than is recommended here,

it may be possible to provide a compensating lower

standard in some other respect (and vice versa). For

example, in lower risk premises a reduced level of fire

separation may be acceptable if a higher standard of

fire detection and warning system is provided. Equally,

the installation of a fixed water suppression system

36

housing – fire safety


(sprinkler system) may allow a reduced standard of fire

separation. Variations on such themes will need to be

considered on their merits, and agreement will need

to be sought from the relevant enforcing authority.

33.3 The examples in this section assume a normal level of

risk. They assume that:

• occupiers are able-bodied and capable of evacuating

the building unaided;

• occupiers are not from any particular vulnerable

group (for example people with impaired sight or

hearing, the elderly or frail, or people with alcohol

or drug dependency); and

• there are no particular high-risk factors present in

the building such as commercial uses, large storage

areas or the use of open fires.

Where this is not the case and higher risk factors are

present, higher levels of fire safety precautions may be

required.

33.4 The descriptions of the various categories of residential

premises covered in this chapter will not necessarily

match every situation, and professional judgment will be

needed where variations occur. For clarification of use of

the term ‘storey’, see the glossary. This chapter contains

case studies for the following categories of premises:

• single occupancy accommodation;

• shared houses;

• bedsit-type HMOs;

• buildings converted to self-contained flats; and

• flats in multiple occupation.

34. Single household occupancy

Houses, flats and maisonettes occupied by persons

living as a single household. The term ‘household’

means either a single person or members of the same

family who are living together. This includes people

who are married or living together as married (including

those in same-sex relationships). ‘Family’ means specific

relatives: parents, grandparents, children and stepchildren,

grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,

nephews, nieces or cousins. Foster children are also

treated as part of their parents’ household.

Case study D1: Single household occupancy of no

more than two storeys (see figure D1)

but the escape route should have sound, conventional

construction and should not pass through risk rooms

No requirement for fire doors note 5 , but sound, well

constructed and close-fitting conventional doors are

required

Alternatively, provide suitable escape windows from

bedrooms and living rooms (see paragraph 14)

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire resistance, but

walls and floors should be of sound, conventional

construction

If a basement/cellar is present, 30-minute separation

between the cellar and the ground floor escape route

is the ideal (but see paragraph 19.6 regarding existing

construction)

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the escape route at

ground and first floor levels; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in any cellar

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

No requirement for emergency escape lighting, but

conventional artificial lighting is required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

It is recommended good practice to provide a fire

blanket in the kitchen

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes & floor coverings (paragraphs 28-29)

No requirement

Management and maintenance of fire safety

It is recommended that all doors are kept closed at

night (see paragraph 32)

note 5: where construction standards are poor,

travel distances are long or other higher risk factors

are present, a 30-minute protected route may be

required.

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

No requirement for full 30-minute protected route note 5 ,

housing – fire safety 37


Case study D2: Single household occupancy of

three or four storeys (see figure D2)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

No requirement for full 30-minute protected route note 6 ,

but the escape route should have sound conventional

construction and the travel distance should not be

excessive

No requirement for fire doors note 6 , but sound, well

constructed and close-fitting conventional doors are

required

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire resistance, but

walls and floors should be of sound, conventional

construction

If a basement/cellar is present, 30-minute separation

between the cellar and the ground floor escape route

is required

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the escape route at all

floor levels; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in any cellar

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

No requirement for emergency escape lighting, but

conventional artificial lighting is required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

It is recommended good practice to provide a fire

blanket in the kitchen

Fire safety signs (paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes & floor coverings (paragraphs

28-29)

No requirement

Management and maintenance of fire safety

It is recommended that all doors are kept closed at

night (see paragraph 32)

note 6: where construction standards are poor, travel

distances are long or other higher risk factors are

present, a 30-minute protected route may be required.

Case study D3: Single household occupancy of

five or six storeys (see figure D3)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30 doors to

all risk rooms (without smoke seals – see paragraph 21.3).

Secondary means of escape is required from top floor

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire resistance generally,

but walls and floors should be of sound, traditional

construction. Lateral fire-resisting separation of the top

two floors from the remainder of the house is required.

If a cellar is present, provide 30-minute separation

between the cellar and the ground floor escape route

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade A, LD3 system

• detection throughout common parts, in the kitchen

(heat detection) and any cellar

38

housing – fire safety


Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

No requirement for emergency escape lighting, but

conventional artificial lighting is required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

It is recommended good practice to provide a fire

blanket in the kitchen

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Directional fire exit signs indicating way to secondary

means of escape

Surface finishes & floor coverings (paragraphs 28- 29)

No requirement

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

35. Shared houses

35.1 There is no legal definition of a ‘shared house’ and so

this term can sometimes cause confusion. Whilst shared

houses fall within the legal definition of an HMO (see

Appendix 1, paragraph A.32) and will be licensable

where licensing criteria are met, it is recognised that

they can often present a lower fire risk than traditional

bedsit-type HMOs due to their characteristics.

has been rented out by an identifiable group of

sharers such as students, work colleagues or friends

as joint tenants. Each occupant normally has their

own bedroom but they share the kitchen, dining

facilities, bathroom, WC, living room and all other

parts of the house. All the tenants will have exclusive

legal possession and control of all parts of the house,

including all the bedrooms. There is normally a

significant degree of social interaction between the

occupants and they will, in the main, have rented out

the house as one group. There is a single joint tenancy

agreement. In summary, the group will possess many

of the characteristics of a single family household,

although the property is still technically an HMO as

the occupants are not all related.

35.3 The exact arrangements will vary from house to house

and this may result in ‘grey areas’ in determining

whether a house is a true shared house which

therefore presents a lower fire safety risk due to

the mode of occupation. Each case will need to be

considered on its merits.

35.4 Even if a property is occupied as a shared house, the

fire risk may still increase if the property is of a nonstandard

layout or if the occupants present a higher

risk due to factors such as limited mobility or drug/

alcohol dependency (see paragraph 9.3).

35.2 For the purposes of this guidance, shared houses

are described as HMOs where the whole property

housing – fire safety 39


35.5 Whilst all HMOs are still subject to the Housing Act

2004, the FSO does not apply to shared houses that

meet the criteria set out above. This is because the

occupants have exclusive use of the whole house.

35.6 However, the following two examples are intended to

expand on this description and assist in making that

judgment:

example 1

A two-storey house with kitchen and living room on

the ground floor and bathroom on the first floor. The

whole house is let to four tenants, A, B, C and D, who

have exclusive possession of the whole house. The

house will therefore be used as a private dwelling by

A, B, C and D jointly, as domestic premises and the

FSO will not apply.

the first floor). In September he lets the first floor

to tenants C and D, with a right to use the kitchen

and living room (but not full possession of the whole

house). Then the ground floor will be treated as being

used as a private dwelling because it includes the

kitchen and living room but the first floor will not,

because, although C and D have the right to use

the kitchen and living room, it is not comprised in

their tenancy agreement. They do not have exclusive

possession of a dwelling and therefore the FSO will

apply.

The following examples set out an approach to fire

safety that may be appropriate in shared houses that

present no additional risk factors (as explained above).

Where additional risk factors are present then a higher

standard of fire precautions may be necessary, having

regard to the fire risk assessment.

The position will be different if there is not exclusive

possession of the whole house, as follows:

example 2

In July, the landlord lets the ground floor of the house

(including the kitchen and living room) to tenants

A and B, giving them a right to use a bathroom on

40

housing – fire safety


Case study D4: Shared house of no more than

two storeys

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

No requirement for full 30-minute protected route note

7

, but the escape route should have sound, traditional

construction and should not pass through risk rooms.

No requirement for fire doors note 7 , but sound, well

constructed and close-fitting conventional doors

are required. Alternatively, provide suitable escape

windows from bedrooms and living rooms (see

paragraph 14)

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire resistance, but

walls and floors should be of sound, traditional

construction. If a basement/cellar is present,

30-minute separation between the cellar and the

ground floor escape route is the ideal, but see

paragraph 19.6 regarding existing construction

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system:

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the escape route at all

floor levels;

• additional interlinked heat alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the kitchen;

• additional interlinked smoke alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the lounge; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in any cellar.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

No requirement for emergency escape lighting, but

conventional artificial lighting is required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in the kitchen

Simple multi-purpose fire extinguisher in the hallway

recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes & floor coverings (paragraphs 28-29)

No requirement

Management and maintenance of fire safety

It is recommended that all doors are kept closed at

night (see paragraph 32)

note 7: where construction standards are poor,

travel distances are long or other higher risk factors

are present, a 30-minute protected route may be

required.

Case study D5: Shared house of three or four

storeys (see figure D5)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route note 8 , is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30 doors

to all risk rooms (without smoke seals – see paragraph

21.3). Travel distance must not be excessive

housing – fire safety 41


Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire resistance, but walls

and floors should be of sound, traditional construction.

If a cellar is present, 30-minute separation is required

between the cellar and the ground floor escape route

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system:

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the escape route at each

floor level;

• additional interlinked heat alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the kitchen;

• additional interlinked smoke alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the lounge; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in any cellar.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Emergency escape lighting required only if the route

is long or complex or where there is no effective

borrowed light

Conventional artificial lighting required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in the kitchen

Simple multi-purpose fire extinguisher on each landing

recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Signage only required if the escape route is complex

Surface finishes & floor coverings (paragraphs 28-29)

No requirement

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 8: three-storey properties only: the ideal

situation is for the escape route to be enclosed in

30-minutes fire resisting construction and FD30

fire doors. However, in existing three-storey shared

houses of low risk it may be possible to accept existing

walls and partitions if 20-minutes fire resistance

can be achieved. This is likely to be met if walls and

partitions are of sound, conventional construction.

Sound lath and plaster construction should meet this

requirement. Doors onto the escape route may be

acceptable if they are of sound, solid construction, are

close fitting and self-closing.

Case study D6: Shared house of five or six

storeys (see figure D6)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30S doors

to all risk rooms (with smoke seals). Travel distance

must not be excessive

Five storeys

Lobby protection to all floors except the top floor or

secondary means of escape from top floor

42

housing – fire safety


Six storeys

Lobby protection to all floors except the top floor and

secondary means of escape from top two floors

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire resistance generally,

but walls and floors should be of sound, traditional

construction. Lateral fire-resisting separation of the

top floor (in five storey) or top two floors (in six storey)

from the remainder of the house is required. If a cellar

is present, provide 30-minute separation between the

cellar and the ground floor escape route.

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade A, LD2 system

• detection throughout escape route and all risk

rooms including living rooms, kitchen (heat

detection) and any cellar

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Emergency escape lighting required

Conventional artificial lighting required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in the kitchen

Simple multi-purpose fire extinguisher on each landing

recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Signage only required if the escape route is complex

or where there is a secondary means of escape

Surface finishes & floor coverings (paragraphs 28-29)

No requirement

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

36. Bedsit-type HMOs

These are HMOs which have been converted into a

number of separate non-self-contained bedsit lettings

or floor-by-floor lets. Typically there will be individual

cooking facilities within each bedsit, but alternatively

there may be shared cooking facilities or a mixture

of the two. Toilets and bathing/washing facilities will

mostly be shared. There is unlikely to be a communal

living or dining room. Each bedsit or letting will be let

to separate individuals who will live independently,

with little or no communal living between tenants.

Each letting will have its own individual tenancy

agreement and there will usually be a lock on each

individual letting door.

Case study D7: Bedsit-type HMO of no more than

two storeys (see figure D7)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route note 9 is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30S doors

to all risk rooms. Travel distance must not be excessive

housing – fire safety 43


Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire-resisting separation

between units, but walls and floors should be of

sound, traditional construction

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Mixed system

Grade D, LD2 system

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located throughout the escape route

Where cooking facilities are sited within the bedsits:

• interlinked heat alarms with integral battery back-up

located in each bedsit; and

• additional non-interlinked smoke alarm with integral

battery back-up located in each bedsit.

Where cooking facilities are sited in shared kitchen,

not within bedsits:

• interlinked smoke alarms with integral battery backup

located in each bedsit;

• interlinked heat alarms with integral battery back-up

located in each communal kitchen; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in any cellar.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Emergency escape lighting required only if the route

is long or complex or where there is no effective

borrowed light

Conventional artificial lighting required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in each bedsit with

cooking facilities and in shared kitchens. Simple multipurpose

extinguisher on each floor in the common

parts recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Signage along escape route if the escape route is

complex

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 9: a full 30-minute protected route is the

preferred (ideal) option. However, in two-storey,

normal risk HMOs the provision of suitable escape

windows from all bedsit rooms may be acceptable in

lieu of a fully protected route.

Case study D8: Bedsit-type HMO of three or four

storeys (see figure D8)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30S doors

to all risk rooms. Travel distance must not be excessive

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

No requirement for additional fire-resisting separation

between units, but walls and floors should be of

sound, traditional construction

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Mixed system

Grade A, LD2 system

• smoke detectors located throughout the escape route

44

housing – fire safety


Where cooking facilities are sited within the bedsits:

• interlinked heat detectors located in each bedsit; and

• additional Grade D, non-interlinked smoke alarm

with integral battery back-up located in each bedsit.

Where cooking facilities are sited in shared kitchen,

not within bedsits:

• interlinked smoke detectors located in each bedsit;

• heat detectors located in each kitchen; and

• additional interlinked smoke detectors located in

any cellar.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Conventional lighting is required.

Emergency escape lighting maybe appropriate if route

complex or there is no effective borrowed light

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in each bedsit with

cooking facilities and in shared kitchens

Simple multi-purpose extinguisher on each floor in the

common parts recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Final exit sign and signage along the escape route if

the escape route is complex

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

Case study D9: Bedsit-type HMO of five or six

storeys (see figure D9)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction, and FD30S doors

to all risk rooms. Travel distance must not be excessive

Five storeys

Lobby protection to all floors except the top floor or

secondary means of escape from top floor

Six storeys

Lobby protection to all floors except the top floor and

secondary means of escape from top two floors

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

30-minute fire separation between units of

accommodation throughout

30-minute fire separation across the stairway between

second and third floors and between fourth and fifth

floors

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Mixed system

Grade A, LD2 system

• smoke detectors located throughout the escape route

Where cooking facilities are sited within the bedsits:

• heat detectors located in each bedsit;

• additional Grade D, non-interlinked smoke alarm;

with integral battery back-up located in each bedsit.

housing – fire safety 45


Where cooking facilities are sited in shared kitchen,

not within bedsits:

• smoke detectors located in each bedsit;

• heat detectors located in each kitchen; and

• additional interlinked smoke detectors located in

any cellar.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Emergency escape lighting required

Conventional artificial lighting required

Fire fighting equipmeny (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in each bedsit with

cooking facilities and in shared kitchens

Simple multi-purpose extinguisher on each floor in the

common parts recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Final exit sign and directional signage along escape

route

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

37. Houses/buildings converted to self-contained flats

Houses or buildings converted into self-contained flats

where the conversion did not (and does not) meet

the building standards under the Building Regulations

1991. Buildings that were converted to a standard

meeting those regulations and which still meet them

are not included here, as they will not require additional

fire safety measures unless occupied in a manner other

than intended under the original conversion scheme –

for example, occupation of a flat as a flat in multiple

occupation (see section E) – or where an additional risk

has been introduced post-conversion.

Case study D10: Two-storey building converted

into self-contained flats (see figure D10)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30S doors

to rooms opening onto escape route. No requirement

for fire doors within flats, but sound, well constructed

and close-fitting conventional doors are required.

Travel distance must not be excessive

It may be possible to accept an existing lower standard

of protection in the protected route if there are

suitable escape windows from bedrooms and living

rooms (see paragraph 14)

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

30 minutes fire resistance between flats throughout

46

housing – fire safety


is the ideal, but on risk assessment there may be no

requirement for additional fire-resisting separation

between units providing walls and floors are of sound,

traditional construction and additional compensatory

detection is fitted.

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

note 10

A mixed system

• Grade D: LD2 coverage in the common areas and a

heat detector in each flat in the room/lobby opening

onto the escape route (interlinked); and

• Grade D: LD3 coverage in each flat (non-interlinked

smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the

escape route) to protect the sleeping occupants of

the flat

Subject to fire separation (above)

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Conventional artificial lighting is required

Emergency escape lighting required if the route is long

or complex or where there is no effective borrowed

light

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in each kitchen

(recommended good practice)

Simple multi-purpose extinguisher on each floor in the

common parts (ground floor hallway only if no first

floor common parts) recommended

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 10: where the fire risk assessment identifies

higher than normal risk, the BS 5839: part 6, LD2

interpretation of “rooms or areas that present a high

fire risk to occupants” may include living rooms,

bedrooms and kitchens within the flats, thereby

providing automatic detection in these rooms in

addition to the common parts and internal entrance

hall/lobby within flats. Where this is the case, this

additional detection would be an additional grade D

system within the flat (i.e. a mixed system overall) so

as to avoid whole-house false alarms.

Case study D11: Three- or four-storey building

converted into self-contained flats (see figure D11)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire-resisting construction and FD30S doors

to rooms opening onto escape route. No requirement

for fire doors within flats, but sound, well constructed

and close-fitting conventional doors are required.

Travel distance must not be excessive

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

30 minutes fire resistance between flats throughout

is the ideal, but on risk assessment there may be no

requirement for additional fire-resisting separation

between units providing walls and floors are of sound,

traditional construction and additional compensatory

detection is fitted

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

A mixed system

note 11

• Grade A: LD2 coverage in the common areas and a

heat alarm in each flat in the room/lobby opening

onto the escape route (interlinked); and

housing – fire safety 47


figure D11: four storey building converted to flats

Simple multi-purpose fire

extinguisher in common parts

on each floor and fire blanket in

each kitchen (recommended

good practice)

Fire alarm control panel

4

3

2

1

AFD mixed system Grade A, LD2

and Grade D, LD3 – see 22

30 minute fire resisting

construction throughout escape

route

30 minute FD30S fire doors to

each flat entrance and ideally to

rooms within flats – see 21.3

Fire exit sign indicates way out

• Grade D: LD3 coverage in each flat (non-interlinked

smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the

escape route) to protect the sleeping occupants of

the flat

Subject to fire separation (above)

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23- 24)

Conventional artificial lighting required

Emergency escape lighting required if the route is long

or complex or where there is no effective borrowed

light

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Simple multi-purpose extinguisher on each floor in the

common parts

Fire blanket to be provided in each kitchen

(recommended good practice)

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Final exit sign and signage along escape route if the

escape route is complex

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 11: where the fire risk assessment identifies

higher than normal risk, the BS 5839: part 6, LD2

interpretation of “rooms or areas that present a high

fire risk to occupants” may include living rooms,

bedrooms and kitchens within the flats, thereby

providing automatic detection in these rooms in

addition to the common parts and internal entrance

hall/lobby within flats. Where this is the case, this

additional detection would be an additional grade D

system within the flat (i.e. a mixed system overall) so

as to avoid whole-house false alarms.

Case study D12: Five- or six-storey building

converted into self-contained flats (see figure D12)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route is required, including

30-minute fire resisting construction, FD30S doors to

rooms opening onto escape route, and FD30 doors

(self-closers not required) to risk rooms within flats.

Travel distance must not be excessive

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

30-minute fire separation between units of

accommodation throughout

30-minute separation is required across the stairway

between fourth and fifth floors and first and second

floors

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

A mixed system note 12 :

• Grade A: LD2 coverage in the common areas and a

heat detector in each flat in the room/lobby opening

onto the escape route (interlinked); and

• Grade D: LD3 coverage in each flat (non-interlinked

smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the

escape route) to protect the sleeping occupants of

the flat.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Emergency escape lighting required

Conventional artificial lighting required

48

housing – fire safety


figure D12: six storey building converted to flats

FD30 doors within flats

Simple multi-purpose fire

extinguisher in common parts

on each floor and fire blanket in

each kitchen (recommended

good practice)

Emergency escape lighting within

escape route

Fire alarm control panel

6

5

4

3

2

1

AFD mixed system Grade A, LD2

and Grade D, LD3 – see 22

30 minute fire resisting

construction throughout escape

route and between flats

Fire resisting door across stairway

between fourth and fifth floors

and first and second floors

30 minute FD30S fire doors to

each flat entrance

Fire exit sign indicates way out

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Simple multi-purpose extinguisher on each floor in the

common parts

Fire blanket to be provided in each kitchen

(recommended good practice)

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

Final exit sign

Directional signage along escape route

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 12: where the fire risk assessment identifies

higher than normal risk, the BS 5839: part 6, LD2

interpretation of “rooms or areas that present a high

fire risk to occupants” may include living rooms,

bedrooms and kitchens within the flats, thereby

providing automatic detection in these rooms in

addition to the common parts and internal entrance

hall/lobby within flats. Where this is the case, this

additional detection would be an additional grade D

system within the flat (i.e. a mixed system overall) so

as to avoid whole-house false alarms.

38. Flats in multiple occupation

Any self-contained flat which is occupied by three or

more persons who do not form a single household.

Fire safety standards will be enforceable under the

housing health and safety rating system and some

transitional and additional HMO licensing schemes.

Case study D13: Flat in multiple occupation

occupying a single storey

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

No requirement for full 30-minute protected route within

flat note 13 , but the escape route should have sound,

traditional construction and should not pass through risk

rooms. Travel distance must not be excessive

No requirement for fire doors within flat, but sound,

well constructed and close-fitting conventional doors are

required.

FD30S door to flat entrance door

(note: in converted or purpose-built flats, 30-minute

construction and fire doors are likely to be in place)

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system:

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the flat internal hallway;

and

• additional interlinked heat alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the kitchen

housing – fire safety 49


Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

No requirement for emergency lightening, but

conventional artificial lighting is required

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in the shared kitchen

Fire safety signs (paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32 )

note 13: where construction standards are poor, travel

distances are long or other higher risk factors are

present, a 30-minute protected route may be required

and/or LD2 fire detection may be appropriate.

Case study D14: Flat in multiple occupation

occupying two storeys

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

No requirement for full 30-minute protected route

within flat note 14 , but the escape route should have

sound, traditional construction and should not

pass through risk rooms. Travel distances must not

be excessive. No requirement for fire doors within

flat, but sound, well constructed and close-fitting

conventional doors are required. FD30S door to flat

entrance door. (note: in converted or purpose-built

flats 30-minute construction and fire doors are likely

to be in place)

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system:

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the escape route at each

floor level;

• additional interlinked heat alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the kitchen; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarm with integral

battery back-up located in any communal lounge.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Conventional artificial lighting required

Emergency escape lighting may be required if there is

no effective borrowed light

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in the shared kitchen

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes & floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 14: where construction standards are poor, travel

distances are long or other higher risk factors are

present, a 30-minute protected route may be required

and/or LD2 fire detection may be appropriate.

39. Back-to-back houses

These houses typically back directly onto one another

at the party wall and have other houses either side. This

means that there is only one exit from the house, and

the escape route inevitably passes through a risk room.

Case study D15: Three-storey back-to-back

shared house with up to four occupiers (the

stairs exit via the living room and the kitchen is

off the living room (see figure 15)

Escape routes (see paragraph 9)

30-minute protected route at first and second floor

level:

• 30-minute fire-resisting construction;

• FD30 doors (without smoke seals – see paragraph

21.3), self-closers not required, to risk rooms on first

and second floors and to kitchen note 15 ;

• escape window from first floor (see paragraph 14);

and

• travel distances must not be excessive.

Fire separation (see paragraph 19)

30-minute fire separation between ground and first

floors

FD30S fire door across staircase between ground and

first floor

Fire detection and alarm system (see paragraph 22)

Grade D, LD3 system:

• interlinked mains wired smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in the escape route at all

floor levels;

• additional interlinked heat alarm with integral

battery back-up located in the kitchen;

• additional interlinked smoke alarm with integral

50

housing – fire safety


attery back-up located in the lounge; and

• additional interlinked smoke alarms with integral

battery back-up located in any cellar.

Lighting of escape routes (paragraphs 23-24)

Conventional artificial lighting required

Emergency escape lighting may be required if there is

no effective borrowed light

Fire fighting equipment (see paragraph 25)

Fire blanket to be provided in the kitchen

Where the requirements for an escape window (see

paragraph 14) cannot be met, alternative precautions

may include construction of a 30-minute protected

route through the house to the final exit, 60 minutes

fire separation between ground and first floors, and

conditions relating to arrangements for calling the fire

and rescue service (such as a fire alarm linked to the

fire brigade or to a monitoring agency). The installation

of a domestic water suppression system may also be

considered in such high-risk cases.

Fire safety signs (see paragraph 27)

No requirement

Surface finishes and floor coverings

(see paragraphs 28-29)

Management and maintenance of fire safety

(see paragraph 32)

note 15: where the house is occupied by a single

household or as a low-risk shared house by a small

number of occupiers, it may be possible to relax

the requirement for full 30-minute fire resisting

construction throughout the escape route and FD30

doors at first and second floor level. This is dependent

on sound, traditional construction and sound, well

constructed and close-fitting conventional doors.

Solid timber doors and panelled doors of substantial

construction may be acceptable but flimsy constructions

and hollow infill-type doors (commonly known as ‘eggbox’)

would not be. This can be difficult to assess and

expert advice may be required. The door to the kitchen

and the door separating ground and first floors should

be at least FD30S in all cases.

housing – fire safety 51


APPENDIX 1: LEGISLATION AND

STATUTORY GUIDANCE

A.1 Introduction: This appendix provides a general

overview of fire safety legislation for existing residential

accommodation. It aims to provide a general working

knowledge for the reader and set the context for

this fire safety guidance. It does not provide an indepth,

detailed knowledge of the legislation or cover

all details. References to further, detailed reading are

provided, and those seeking detailed legal guidance are

recommended to refer to those signposted references

and seek specialist legal advice.

A.2 The repeal of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the

Housing Act 1985 altered dramatically the way that

fire safety in existing residential accommodation is

regulated. These old acts have been replaced by new

legislation which, for the purposes of this guidance, is

the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire

Safety) Order 2005 (FSO).

A.3 The Housing Act 2004 introduced the housing health

and safety rating system (HHSRS), along with licensing

provisions for certain larger houses in multiple

occupation (HMOs) and management regulations for

all HMOs. The HHSRS is the principal tool for assessing

fire safety risk and regulating standards in all types

and tenures of residential accommodation. HMO

licensing conditions provide specific regulation of fire

safety standards for HMOs in the private rented sector.

Guidance under this legislation for housing providers

and local housing authorities is contained in both the

Housing Health and Safety Rating System Operating

Guidance and in secondary legislation.

A.4 The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places

duties on housing providers to risk-assess fire safety

in their properties, to take adequate precautions

to reduce that risk and to manage that risk which

remains. The duties apply throughout a range of

property types, but in HMOs, flats and maisonettes

and sheltered accommodation in which personal care

is not provided they apply only within the common

areas (although housing providers need to consider

the risk created within the private areas too). These

duties are enforced by fire and rescue authorities.

Guidance for housing providers and fire and rescue

authorities is contained in HM Government Fire Safety

Risk Assessment Sleeping Accommodation Guide,

although the recommendations contained in this

guide should produce an equivalent level of safety.

A.5 So, in respect of houses in multiple occupation (see

paragraph 35 regarding shared houses) and in flats/

maisonettes and sheltered accommodation, the new

regulatory framework provides for dual enforcement

between local housing authorities under the Housing

Act 2004 and fire and rescue authorities under the

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

A.6 In view of the dual enforcement regime, there is a

clear need for consistent and coherent joint working

arrangements between local housing authorities

and fire and rescue authorities when applying the

two sets of legislation. Uncoordinated regulation

places a burden on housing providers and leads to

confusion, duplication and unnecessary expense.

With this in mind, in May 2007 the fire safety housing

working group published a Protocol between local

housing authorities and fire and rescue authorities to

improve fire safety. This received Ministerial support

from Baroness Andrews and Angela Smith MP and

established a framework for joint working between

the two sets of authorities. The protocol is being

adopted by authorities around the country and has

improved working arrangements and brought about a

more coordinated approach. The protocol is included

in this guidance at Appendix 2.

A.7. The Housing Act 2004: part 1 – the housing

health and safety rating system (HHSRS)

A.8 Part 1 of the Act introduced the housing health and

safety rating system (HHSRS). This is the Government’s

new approach to evaluation of the potential risks to

health and safety from any deficiencies identified in

dwellings. Twenty-nine categories of potential hazard

are considered, one of which (hazard 24) is fire. The

HHSRS, although not in itself a standard, has been

introduced as a replacement for the previous housing

fitness standards which were contained in sections

604 and 352 of the Housing Act 1985 (both now

repealed). Detailed guidance on the principles and

application of the HHSRS are contained in Housing

Health and Safety Rating System Operating Guidance

and Housing Health and Safety Rating System

Enforcement Guidance from Communities and Local

Government.

A.9 The underlying principle of the HHSRS is that any

residential premises should provide a safe and healthy

environment for any potential occupier or visitor.

To satisfy this principle, a dwelling should be designed,

52

housing – fire safety


constructed and maintained with non-hazardous

materials and should be free from both unnecessary

and avoidable hazards. This holds true for the hazard

of fire. The HHSRS provides a means of assessing

dwellings which reflects the risk from any hazard and

allows a judgment to be made as to whether that

risk, in those particular circumstances, is acceptable

or not. For the purposes of the HHSRS the assessment

is solely about the risks to health and safety. The

feasibility, cost or extent of any remedial action is

irrelevant to the assessment. Some deficiencies may be

quickly, easily and cheaply remedied, but while such

deficiencies are present the threat to health or safety

can be considerable.

can have a high level of confidence in the statistical

averages. This statistical evidence is summarised in the

fire hazard profile (24) section of the HHSRS Operating

Guidance and is intended to inform professional

judgment.

A.13 The recommendations in Parts C and D of this

guidance have regard to the evidence and advice

contained in fire hazard profile (24) of the HHSRS

Operating Guidance.

A.14 Assessing fire hazard under the housing health and

safety rating system

A.10 The principle of the HHSRS is the assessment of risk

presented by a dwelling, based on:

• the likelihood of an occurrence that could cause

harm (in this case uncontrolled fire and associated

smoke); and

• the probable severity of the outcomes of such an

occurrence.

The system uses a formula to generate a numerical

score, which allows comparison of different hazards –

the higher the score, the greater the risk.

A.11 Under the HHSRS, the fire hazard covers threats from

exposure to uncontrolled fire and associated smoke in

a dwelling. It includes injuries from clothing catching

alight on exposure to an uncontrolled fire, but does

not include injuries caused by clothing catching alight

from a controlled fire or flame, which may be caused

by reaching across a gas flame or an open fire used for

space heating.

A.12 The HHSRS is evidence-based. It is supported by

extensive reviews of available literature and by

detailed analyses of statistical data on the impact of

housing conditions on health. The data used to make

a fire hazard assessment is based on averages relating

to persons aged 60 years or over who died or were

injured in a house or flat fire in England and Wales

in the years 1997, 1998 and 1999. The statistics are

based on the number of such persons dying in fires

as reported by coroners; the number of casualties and

persons rescued at all fires attended by the fire and

rescue services; and the number of additional persons

injured from uncontrolled fire or flames reported

by the Home Accident Surveillance System. There

is a strong evidence base for the production of fire

accident statistics, and due to large sample sizes we

The HHSRS Operating Guidance details how to make

an assessment of the fire hazard presented by a

particular dwelling. The guidance offers the following

information:

Potential for harm from fire: this sets out how the

hazard of uncontrolled fire and associated smoke

can affect health, outlining typical illnesses or injuries

which may result from exposure to it. The prevalence

of the hazard, and typical numbers of people affected

nationally each year, are identified. The national

statistical averages for the likelihood and spread of

harms are given in a table, together with the average

hazard scores. The averages are given for eight

different ages and types of dwellings, and for all

dwellings.

Causes: this section discusses potential sources of

hazard from fire based on statistical evidence. It

also discusses the contribution to a hazard which

could be attributed to dwelling features and to

human behaviour. This helps to assess whether any

deficiencies identified in the dwelling could mean that

the likelihood or spread of harms deviates from the

average for the particular age and type of dwelling.

Preventive measures and the ideal: this gives an

indication of measures and the optimum standard

intended to avoid or minimise the hazard – that

is, the optimum current at the time of preparation

of the operating guidance (January 2004). This is

informed by relevant British Standards (BS 5588, 5839

and 5446) and UK building regulations approved

document B.

Relevant matters affecting likelihood and harm

outcome: to assist enforcement officers, a check-list of

housing – fire safety 53


dwelling features which may affect the likelihood and

the severity of the outcome is provided.

A.15 For multi-occupied buildings the assessment is made

for each individual dwelling, including its associated

shared rooms/areas and its access and escape route,

not the building as a whole. This means that different

hazard ratings can be expected for dwellings within

the same building, depending, amongst other

things, on the location of the dwelling unit within

the building and any deficiencies to the individual

dwelling. For example, a bedsit on the ground floor

close to the final exit from the building would not be

assessed the same as a bedsit on the third floor where

the means of escape is the internal staircase (even if

both bedsitting rooms are identical apart from their

location). If a fire occurred, the harm caused to a

victim in the third storey bedsit would be more severe

than the person in the ground floor bedsit because

there would be a greater distance of travel to safety.

A.16 The HHSRS uses judgments made by the inspector,

based on an inspection of the dwelling, to generate a

numerical score.

A.17 The procedure requires two judgments from the

inspector. These are an assessment of:

• the likelihood, over the next 12 months, of an

occurrence that could result in harm to a person

aged 60 years or over (the vulnerable group); and

• the range of potential outcomes from such an

occurrence.

Note: ‘vulnerable group’ is defined in the HHSRS

operating guidance as “a range of people for whom

the risk arising from a hazard is greater than for any

other group in the population”. It is restricted to

age groups, no other vulnerability is considered. The

assessment of likelihood of an occurrence resulting in

harm is based on a member of this group living in the

property. For the hazard of fire the vulnerable group

is persons over the age of 60. The vulnerable group

is only used to assess the hazard; when it comes to

enforcement decisions the actual person living there is

considered.

A.18 The judgment of the likelihood made by the inspector

involves taking account of the conditions (deficiencies)

identified during the inspection, in particular whether

those conditions will increase or reduce the average

likelihood of an occurrence.

A.19 Using the two judgments, the HHSRS formula detailed

in the operating guidance is used to generate a

numerical hazard score for the fire hazard at the

subject premises. The numerical hazard score is a

representation of the inspector’s judgment rather than

a precise statement of the risk. The scores potentially

range from 0.2 to one million. In order to make this

wide range manageable and to avoid too strong a

focus on precise numerical scores, hazard bands have

been devised which group ranges of scores, which

can then be used for comparison. There are 10 hazard

bands (A to J) with band J being the safest and band

A the most dangerous.

A.20 The band into which a dwelling falls in respect of the

fire hazard can then be used:

• to inform a landlord’s decision as to whether action

should be taken to reduce the hazard and to

prioritise actions across a property portfolio; and

• to inform the enforcing authority’s decision as to

what, if any, enforcement action should be taken in

respect of the property.

A.21 Worked examples of HHSRS assessments of fire hazard

can be found on the LACORS website at www.lacors.

gov.uk

A.22 Action following hazard assessment

The enforcing authority for the Housing Act 2004 is

the local housing authority (LHA) (the local council).

The Act gives LHAs powers to intervene where they

consider housing conditions to be unacceptable on

the basis of the impact of hazards on the health or

safety of the most vulnerable potential occupant.

Having carried out an assessment for the hazard of

fire under HHSRS and where a significant hazard

exists, the LHA must decide what (if any) action is

appropriate.

A.23 Where a category one hazard is identified (i.e. a band

A, B or C hazard – one that scores 1,000 or more

under the HHSRS assessment outlined above), the

LHA must take action to reduce the risk – it is under a

statutory duty to do so under section 5 of the Act.

A.24 Where a category two hazard exists (i.e. a band D-J

hazard – one which scores less than 1,000 under the

HHSRS assessment outlined above) then the LHA has

a power to act but is not under a duty to do so (under

section 7 of the Act).

54

housing – fire safety


A.25 In many cases, notification of the existence of a

hazard to the landlord by the LHA will be all that is

required, as the landlord will take the appropriate

action to reduce the hazard to an acceptable level.

Guidance on how to do so can be found in Parts C

and D of this guide. However, where self-regulation

does not happen the LHA must consider what action

is appropriate.

A.26 For both categories of hazard the enforcement

options available are as follows (the first two can be

suspended if appropriate):

Serve an improvement notice (section 11 or 12)

this requires the responsible person (usually the

landlord or HMO licence holder) to carry out works

which will at least remove the category one hazard.

Make a prohibition order (section 20 or 21)

this prohibits the use of part or all of the premises for

various specified purposes.

Serve a hazard awareness notice (section 28 or 29)

this is purely advisory action where the LHA notifies

the person responsible of the need for improvements.

Note: demolition orders and clearance areas are not

discussed here.

A.27 In addition to the above, the following discretionary

enforcement options are also available for category

one hazards only where they present an imminent risk

of serious harm to occupiers:

Emergency remedial action (section 40)

LHAs can themselves take remedial action to remove a

hazard and recover reasonable expenses.

If the LHA considers that the action it has taken under

the above provisions has not proved satisfactory, it

may subsequently take the same action again or take

an alternative action.

A.28 Statement of reasons

Whichever type of action the LHA considers

appropriate, it must prepare a statement of reasons

explaining why it decided on that particular type of

action rather than any other type.

A.29 Right of appeal

Except for hazard awareness notices, the recipient of

any of the above enforcement actions has a right of

appeal to the residential property tribunal (RPT). The

LHA must include details of the right of appeal, how

to appeal and the timescale for doing so with the

notice when it is served. Further details on appeals can

be found on the RPT website at www.rpts.gov.uk

A.30 Consultation with fire and rescue authorities

Before talking any of the actions outlined above in

respect of a fire hazard in an HMO or in the common

parts of flats, the LHA must consult with the FRA. For

emergency remedial action or emergency prohibition

this requirement applies only so far as it is practical

to do so before taking those measures (section 10,

Housing Act 2004).

A.31. The Housing Act 2004: part 2 – licensing of

houses in multiple occupation

A.32 Introduction: the definition of house in multiple

occupation (HMO) is contained in section 254 of the

Housing Act 2004. The definition is complex, and for

detailed understanding then the Act itself should be

studied. For general purposes the definition can be

summarised as follows.

Emergency prohibition order (section 43)

LHAs can prohibit the use of all or part of a property.

In both cases the owner of the property will be able

to appeal, but any appeal will not prevent the action

from being taken or the prohibition being put into

effect. These provisions may only be used where

there is a category one hazard, the hazard involves an

imminent risk of harm to any of the occupiers of these

or other residential premises, and no management

order is in force under part four of the Act.

A.33 A building or part of a building is an HMO if it meets

every condition specified in one or more of four tests,

or is subject to an HMO declaration:

The standard test

a) it consists of one or more units of living

accommodation which are not self-contained flats;

b) the living accommodation is occupied by persons

who do not form a single household;

c) the living accommodation is occupied by persons as

their only or main residence;

housing – fire safety 55


d) their occupation of the living accommodation

constitutes the only use of that accommodation;

e) rents are payable or other consideration is

provided in respect of at least one of those person’s

occupation; and

f) two or more of the households who occupy the

living accommodation share one or more basic

amenity or the living accommodation is lacking in

one or more basic amenity.

The self-contained flat test

A self-contained flat which meets all of (b) to (f)

above.

The converted building test

A converted building consisting of one or more units

which are not self-contained flats and:

a) the living accommodation (the building) is occupied

by persons who do not form a single household;

b) the living accommodation is occupied by persons as

their only or main residence;

c) their occupation of the living accommodation

constitutes the only use of that accommodation;

and

d) rents are payable or other consideration is

provided in respect of at least one of those person’s

occupation.

household does not constitute the only use of the

accommodation but does constitute a significant

use of that accommodation, the local authority may

serve an HMO declaration notice. The LHA must

serve the notice on the landlord or manager of the

property within seven days of the decision to make

the declaration. This action nullifies the requirement in

the section 254 HMO definition that the occupation

constitutes the only use of the accommodation. The

recipient of an HMO declaration notice has a right

of appeal to the residential property tribunal (RPT).

Details on appeals are available at www.rpts.gov.uk

A.34 In summary

A building is an HMO if it:

• is occupied by more than one household and

where more than one household shares (or lacks)

an amenity such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking

facilities;

• is occupied by more than one household and is a

converted building, but not entirely self-contained

flats (whether or not some amenities are shared or

lacking);

• is converted self-contained flats but does not meet

as a minimum standard the requirements of the

1991 Building Regulations, and more than one third

of the flats are privately rented; or

• an HMO declaration has been made by the LHA

under section 255 of the Housing Act 2004.

Converted blocks

A converted block of self-contained flats converted

to construction standards that did not comply with

the requirements of the Building Regulations 1991 (SI

1991/2768) and:

a) less than two thirds of the flats are owner-occupied;

b) the living accommodation is occupied by persons

who do not form a single household;

c) the living accommodation is occupied by persons as

their only or main residence;

d) their occupation of the living accommodation

constitutes the only use of that accommodation; and

e) rents are payable or other consideration is

provided in respect of at least one of those person’s

occupation.

A.35 The term ‘household’ means either a single person

or members of the same family who are living

together. This includes people who are married or

living together as married (including those in samesex

relationships). ‘Family’ means specific relatives:

parents, grandparents, children and step-children,

grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,

nephews, nieces or cousins. Foster children are also

treated as part of their foster parents’ household.

A.36 The term ‘occupied’ includes occupation by asylum

seekers and migrant and seasonal workers, as a refuge

by persons escaping domestic violence, or by students

in higher or further education.

A.37 Schedule 14 of the Act exempts the following

categories from the HMO definition:

HMO declarations

Where the occupation of a building or part of

a building by persons who do not form a single

• buildings controlled or managed by public sector

bodies, ie:

- local housing authorities

56

housing – fire safety


- registered social landlords

- police authorities

- fire and rescue authorities

- health service bodies;

• buildings occupied principally by students in fulltime

education and which are managed by the

relevant educational establishment in conformity

with any code approved under section 233 of the

Act;

• buildings occupied by religious communities which

are occupied principally for the purposes of a

religious community whose principal occupation

is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of

suffering (this category excludes converted block of

flats to which section 257 applies);

• owner-occupied buildings;

• buildings occupied by only two persons; and

• buildings regulated by other legislation as specified

in schedule 1 to The Licensing and Management of

Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses

(Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations

2006 (SI 2006/373).

A.38 Licensable HMOs

If the above definition determines that a property

is a HMO it is then necessary to consider whether it

requires licensing. There are three ways in which part

2 or 3 licensing may apply to an HMO:

1) HMOs that fall within a mandatory licensing

scheme. These are schemes which LHAs must

operate under the duty contained in section 55 of

the Act. The categories of HMO which fall within

mandatory licensing are prescribed in The Licensing

of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed

Descriptions) (England) Order 2006. These are

all HMOs comprising three storeys or more and

occupied by five or more persons living in two or

more separate households, unless the HMO has

been temporarily exempted by the LHA or is being

managed by it under a management order.

2) HMOs in areas that are designated by the

LHA as subject to additional licensing schemes

(under section 56 of the Act). In these cases the

categories of HMO covered and the parts of the LHA

district covered will be determined by the particular

scheme. It will be necessary to contact the relevant

LHA to ascertain whether there is an additional

licensing scheme in place.

3) Finally, some local authorities may operate

‘selective licensing’ schemes within parts of their

district under part 3 of the Act. The parts of the

local authority district covered will be determined

by the particular scheme, and it will be necessary

to contact the relevant local authority to ascertain

these details.

Note: certain converted blocks of flats fall within the

HMO definition. These are described in section 257

and are essentially those converted to a standard

that does not comply with the building standards

of the Building Regulations 1991 (and still do not

comply) and of which less than two-thirds of the flats

are owner-occupied. These flats fall within the HMO

definition but are not subject to mandatory licensing.

However, they may fall within an additional licensing

scheme if the local authority has one. If in doubt, the

local authority should be contacted for advice.

A.39 Suitability for licensing in respect of fire safety

The LHA cannot approve an application for an HMO

licence until it is satisfied that the HMO is reasonably

suitable for occupation or can be made so by the

imposition of licensing conditions (section 64). It

cannot be satisfied of this unless the HMO meets

(or can meet) prescribed standards under section

65. The prescribed standards are contained in

Statutory Instrument 2006 no. 373: The Licensing and

Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and

Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England)

Regulations 2006. The standards require that

“appropriate fire precaution facilities and equipment

must be provided of such type, number and location

as is considered necessary”. No further guidance is

given. If an HMO meets the relevant standards in this

guidance, the LHA should be satisfied that appropriate

fire precaution facilities and equipment are provided

and the HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation in

terms of fire safety, and that there is no impediment

to granting the licence in fire safety terms.

A.40 Licence conditions relating to fire safety

Mandatory licence conditions

When granting a licence the LHA must attach

certain mandatory conditions. These are laid down in

schedule four to the Act as follows:

“A licence under part 2 or 3 must include the

following conditions … conditions requiring the

licence holder –

(a) to ensure that smoke alarms are installed in the

house and to keep them in proper working order;

(b) to supply the authority on demand, with a

housing – fire safety 57


declaration by him as to the condition and

positioning of such alarms.”

This is the only fire safety related mandatory condition.

It must be applied to all licences alongside any

relevant discretionary conditions, as explained in the

next section.

Discretionary licence conditions

Section 67 of the Act gives LHAs the discretion to

attach such other conditions to an HMO licence as

it considers appropriate in relation to a number of

specified matters. These include:

“conditions requiring facilities and equipment to

be made available in the house for the purpose of

meeting standards prescribed under section 65” (see

paragraph A.39); and

“conditions requiring, in the case of any works

needed in order for any such facilities or equipment

to be made available or to meet any such standards,

that the works are carried out within such period or

periods as may be specified in, or determined under,

the licence.”

So LHAs may grant a licence with a condition attached

that certain fire safety works are carried out within

a specified period of time to satisfy them that the

HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation in terms

of fire safety under section 64 (“ensuring appropriate

fire precaution facilities and equipment are provided

of such type, number and location as is considered

necessary”).

A.41 Two other considerations are important in terms of

HMO fire safety licence conditions.

Where a category one or two hazard is identified in a

licensable HMO, the Act is clear that the appropriate

enforcement route to remove it is via part 1 (HHSRS).

However, this rule does not preclude LHAs from

attaching fire safety conditions (as described above) to

the licence, even if this brings about the same result.

This is dealt with in section 67:

“67 (4) As regards the relationship between the

authority’s power to impose conditions under this

section and functions exercisable by them under or for

the purposes of part 1 (‘part 1 functions’) —

(a) the authority must proceed on the basis that,

in general, they should seek to identify, remove or

reduce category one or category two hazards in the

house by the exercise of part 1 functions and not by

means of licence conditions;

(b) this does not, however, prevent the authority

from imposing licence conditions relating to the

installation or maintenance of facilities or equipment

within subsection (2)(c) (section 65 prescribed

standards for appropriate fire precaution facilities

and equipment), even if the same result could be

achieved by the exercise of part 1 functions.”

A.42 In practice, as a rule, where a LHA encounters a

significant fire hazard (category one or two) in a

licensable HMO it should seek to remove or reduce

it using part 1 of the act (HHSRS). However, when

granting a licence for an HMO it must satisfy itself

that there are appropriate fire precaution facilities

and equipment in the house. Where that is not the

case, it may attach a condition to the licence requiring

that works to ensure the facilities and equipment

are installed within a specified time period. This

practice will benefit landlords as well as the authority,

because relying solely on the mandatory licence

condition described in paragraph A.41 above may

not provide adequate fire safety to meet the section

65 requirement. Such an approach may also leave

a category one hazard in place, which will require

further remedial works in the near future when the

LHA discharges its duty to remove it under the Act.

Achieving a comprehensive and reasonable standard

of fire safety via the licensing condition will avoid

works being carried out which will subsequently have

to be upgraded or reversed.

A.43 A note of caution must be exercised in relation to

licence conditions requiring works within the common

parts of premises. Article 43 of the Regulatory

Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has the effect that

any licence condition applied in the common parts

of premises to which the order applies shall have no

effect. Therefore, any licence condition may have no

effect where a properly conducted risk assessment

has indicated that a higher level of provision is

necessary. In view of this, the terms of the Protocol

between local housing authorities and fire and rescue

authorities to improve fire safety should be followed in

all cases when establishing licence conditions requiring

works within the common parts of premises to which

the order applies.

A.44 For properties falling within the HMO definition but

outside the scope of licensing, enforcement of fire

safety standards will fall under part 1 of the Housing

Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety)

Order 2005, and again the terms of the protocol

should be followed.

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housing – fire safety


A.45 HMO management regulations

A.46 The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation

(England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and

Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation

(Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007

place requirements on the managers of all HMOs

(whether licensable or not) in respect of fire safety.

(The latter Regulations apply to converted blocks of

flats to which section 257 of the Housing Act 2004

applies and the former apply to all other HMOs).

Similar regulations apply in Wales. The purpose of the

management regulations is not to require additional

fire safety precautions but to ensure that existing

precautions are properly maintained.

A.47 Regulation 4 (5) places specific duties on managers

of HMOs in respect of fire safety. The manager must

ensure that:

• all means of escape from fire in the HMO are kept

free from obstruction and maintained in good order

and repair;

• any fire fighting equipment and fire alarms are

maintained in good working order; and

• all notices indicating the location of means of

escape from fire are displayed in positions within

the HMO that enable them to be clearly visible to

the occupiers (unless the HMO has four or fewer

occupiers).

A.48 Regulation 10 (11) places specific duties on occupiers

of HMOs in respect of fire safety. Every occupier of the

HMO must:

• conduct themselves in a way that will not hinder or

frustrate the manager in the performance of their

duties;

• allow the manager, for any purpose connected

with the carrying out of any duty imposed on them

by these regulations and at all reasonable times,

to enter any living accommodation or other place

occupied by that person;

• provide the manager, at their request, with any such

information as they may reasonably require for the

purpose of carrying out their duties;

• take reasonable care to avoid causing damage to

anything that the manager is under a duty to supply,

maintain or repair under these regulations; and

• comply with the reasonable instructions of the

manager in respect of any means of escape from

fire, the prevention of fire and the use of fire

equipment.

A.49 Regulation 6 (7) places specific duties on managers

of HMOs in respect of gas and electrical safety. These

closely affect fire safety. The manager must:

• supply to the LHA, within seven days of receiving

a request in writing from them, the latest gas

appliance test certificate in relation to the testing

of any gas appliances in the HMO by a recognised

engineer;

• ensure that every fixed electrical installation is

inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding

five years by a person qualified to undertake such

inspection and testing;

• obtain a certificate from the person conducting that

test, specifying the results of the test; and

• within seven days of receiving a request in writing

for it from that authority.

A.50 There is no provision for service of notice requiring

works to remedy management failings under

these regulations, but failure to comply with the

regulations is a criminal offence under section 234(3)

of the Housing Act 2004. Offences carry a level 5

fine on conviction (maximum £5,000 per offence).

Both landlords and tenants may be prosecuted for

contravening the regulations.

A.51. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

A.52 Article 6 of the FSO specifically states that it does not

apply to domestic premises except where the sharing

of living accommodation e.g. a kitchen, means that

the residential unit cannot properly be described as a

dwelling. The exception is the prohibition order power,

which is available for domestic premises except for

those occupied as a single private dwelling. Domestic

premises are defined in the order as premises occupied

as a private dwelling.

So the FSO does apply to:

• the common parts of HMOs (but not ‘shared

houses’) (see paragraph 35);

• the common parts of buildings containing flats and

maisonettes; and

• the common parts of sheltered accommodation.

However, it does not apply to the individual flats,

maisonettes, bedsits or residential units themselves.

The FSO is enforced by the local fire and rescue

authority (FRA) but it must consult the LHA before

taking enforcement action.

housing – fire safety 59


A.53 The FSO places a duty on the responsible person to

take such general fire precautions as will ensure, as far

as is reasonably practicable, the safety of all relevant

persons. Relevant persons include anyone lawfully on

the premises and those in the vicinity of the premises

who would be affected by any fire at the premises.

All persons within an HMO are likely to be considered

relevant persons. The responsible person is the person

having control of the premises, so will usually be

the landlord or manager of the premises. Any other

person who has a degree of control over the premises

will share the responsible person’s duties to the extent

of that control. This includes a contractor maintaining

or repairing the premises, in relation to the works he

or she is obliged to carry out.

A.54 General fire precautions include, where necessary:

• measures to reduce the risk of fire occurring;

• measures to reduce the spread of any fire through

the premises;

• measures in relation to the means of escape;

• measures to ensure the means of escape can be

safely used at all times;

fire fighting measures;

• means of fire detection and warning;

• action to be taken in the event of fire; and

• mitigating the effects of fire.

A.55 In order to comply with the duties imposed by the

FSO, the responsible person must carry out a fire risk

assessment to identify what fire hazards exist at the

premises and what measures have been taken (or will

be taken) to minimise the risk. The risk assessment

must pay particular attention to those at special risk,

such as disabled persons, elderly persons, children,

or those with special needs. Any other specific

risks should be noted, for example the presence of

dangerous substances at the premises. These details

should be recorded and are known as ‘significant

findings’. They must be recorded if the premises are

a licensed HMO or if there are five or more people

employed by the business as a whole (not necessarily

at the premises being assessed). A fire risk assessment

must be carried out irrespective of the requirement

to record the significant findings. The responsible

person must ensure that a competent person(s)

carries out any necessary fire prevention or protection

works identified by the risk assessment (someone

with enough training and experience, knowledge and

other qualities to be able to implement the measures

properly). This could, in many cases, be the responsible

person themselves. The responsible person must also

give all tenants and other relevant persons information

on risks identified in the risk assessment and

information on fire safety measures and procedures

for the premises. All fire safety measures at the

premises must then be subject to a proper system of

maintenance by a competent person so as to be kept

in efficient working order and in good repair. The risk

assessment must be regularly reviewed to ensure that

it is kept up to date.

A.56 “In practice, it is very unlikely that a properly

conducted fire risk assessment, which takes into

account all the matters relevant for the safety of

persons in case of fire, will conclude that no fire

precautions (including maintenance) are necessary”

source: Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order,

guidance note no. 1: enforcement (Communities and

Local Government).

A.57 The relevant enforcement agencies are defined in

article 25 of the FSO, but in the types of premises

covered by this guide this will usually be the fire

and rescue authority (FRA). Inspectors enforce the

provisions of the FSO and have certain powers

to require information and to enter premises.

Enforcement actions which may be taken under the

order are as follows:

Serve an alterations notice (article 29)

this is used where the FRA consider premises to be

high risk or to have the potential of becoming high

risk should alterations be made or change of use

occur. It requires the responsible person to notify the

LHA before making any such changes.

Serve an enforcement notice (article 30)

where the FRA is of the opinion that the responsible

person has failed to comply with any provision of the

FSO or is dissatisfied with the risk assessment or action

taken under it, it may serve an enforcement notice on

that person, specifying the steps required to remedy

the failure.

Serve a prohibition notice (article 31)

where the FRA is of the opinion that the use of a

premises involves or will involve a risk to relevant

persons so serious that use of the premises ought to be

prohibited or restricted, it may serve a prohibition notice.

Note: the article 31 prohibition notice power is

unique in that it can be applied to any or all parts

60

housing – fire safety


of the premises covered by this guide, including the

individual units of accommodation, whereas all other

powers under the FSO apply only to the common

parts.

label does not mean that the furniture does not comply,

as the label may have been removed after the furniture

was supplied; some furniture manufactured before

1988 may comply with the requirements anyway.

A.58 Failure to comply with any duty imposed by the FSO or

the requirements of an alterations notice, enforcement

notice or prohibition notice is a criminal offence under

article 32 of the FSO and carries a level 3-5 fine on

conviction (£1,000 and £5,000 maximum respectively).

There is a right of appeal to a magistrates’ court

against any notice.

A.59 Parts C and D of this guide give guidance on how to

comply with the general fire safety duties required

under the FSO as well as meeting other regulatory

requirements.

A.60 More detailed guidance on compliance with the

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 can be

found in HM Government Fire Safety Risk Assessment

Sleeping Accommodation Guide. Download it

from www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/

firesafetyrisk4

A.61 The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)

Regulations 1988

A.65 Landlords and managing agents must ensure that

the furniture supplied meets the fire resistance

requirements, and the only practical way of doing

so is to ensure that the furniture is labelled by the

manufacturer in this way. If this cannot be ascertained,

the furniture should be replaced.

A.66 The regulations are enforced by local authority trading

standards departments, which can give further

advice to landlords/managing agents regarding these

requirements.

A.67 The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations

1998

A.68 The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

deal with the installation, maintenance and use of gas

appliances, fittings and flues in domestic and certain

commercial premises. They place duties on certain

landlords to ensure that gas appliances, fittings and

flues provided for tenants’ use are safe. Essentially any

lease under seven years is covered.

A.62 The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)

Regulations 1988 (as amended) set levels of fire

resistance for domestic upholstered furniture,

furnishings and other products containing upholstery.

The regulations cover most items of furniture found

in rented accommodation including beds, mattresses,

pillows and cushions. They do not apply to carpets,

curtains or duvets. The regulations apply to all persons

who supply furniture and furnishings in connection

with accommodation in the course of a business. In

general, this includes landlords, letting agents and

managing agents.

A.63 All furniture within lettings commencing after 1 January

1997 must meet the fire resistance requirements of

the regulations. However, the regulations do not apply

to furniture made before 1950 or to re-upholstered

furniture made before that date.

A.64 Since 1988 all new furniture (except mattresses and

bed bases) have had to carry a permanent label stating

that it complies with the fire resistance standards

specified in the regulations. However, absence of such a

A.69 Landlords must ensure that gas fittings and flues are

maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should

be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s

instructions. If these are not available, then it is

recommended that they are serviced annually.

A.70 Only a competent and registered engineer may carry

out servicing or gas safety checks. This term means

an engineer recognised by the Council of Registered

Gas Installers as being competent to undertake such

testing. This means British Gas engineers or (until 1

April 2009) engineers registered with CORGI. After

that date, CORGI registrations will be replaced by

CAPITA registrations.

A.71 Landlords must ensure that a gas safety check is

carried out annually on each gas appliance/flue.

Before any new tenancy starts they must make sure

that such a check has been carried out within one year

before the start of the tenancy (unless the appliances

in the property have been installed for less than one

year, in which case they should be checked within one

year of their installation date). A record of each gas

housing – fire safety 61


safety check must be kept for at least two years and a

copy must be given to existing tenants within 28 days

of the check being completed, or to any new tenant

before they move in (in certain cases there is an option

to display the record in the property instead).

A.72 These requirements do not apply to any appliances

owned by the tenant. The regulations are enforced by

the Health and Safety Executive. Further advice can

be obtained free from their gas safety advice line on

0800 300 363 or at www.hse.gov.uk

A.73 Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

A.74 The regulations require that all electrical equipment

supplied by landlords is safe. In measuring safety,

the landlord or managing/letting agent needs to

ensure that the equipment complies with current

UK requirements for safety of domestic electrical

products. There is no mandatory requirement for

the equipment to undergo any safety testing, but

regulations require that any equipment supplied after

9 January 1995 shall be marked with the appropriate

CE symbol. Where the safe use of the equipment

relies upon the user being aware of any particular

characteristic, suitable information or instruction

booklets should be provided.

A.75 The regulations are enforced by local authority trading

standards departments, which can provide further

advice to landlords/managing agents regarding these

requirements.

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housing – fire safety


Appendix 2:

Protocol between local housing authorities and fire and

rescue authorities to improve fire safety

Foreword by Communities and Local Government Ministers

It is always a priority to ensure safety from the risk of fire in the home, especially in mixed use premises, or where the

occupiers share vital parts of the building with persons who are not members of the same family.

I welcome this protocol which clearly sets out the interrelationship between the two most important pieces of legislation

relating to fire safety in homes, the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The collaborative

working arrangements it promotes between Local Housing Authorities and Fire and Rescue Authorities will ensure proper

partnerships at the local level. This will be of great benefit to the community, in ensuring that risk of fire in homes is reduced

and helps protect against injury or loss.

When it comes to fire safety both the Local Housing Authority and the Fire and Rescue Authority have a range of

responsibilities and it is important these are exercised with a common purpose and in a consistent way. There are a range

of activities that statutory authorities can take to achieve this goal, from promoting awareness and good practice to

enforcement action.

I would encourage you to adopt the principles set out in this protocol and ensure clear local arrangements are agreed and

operational.

Baroness Andrews OBE, Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Housing

Angela Smith MP, Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Fire Safety

Introduction

This protocol establishes the principles and describes

the joint working arrangements between Local Housing

Authorities and Fire and Rescue Authorities to deliver the

objective of improved fire safety. It is a framework which

provides the basis for detailed local arrangements whilst

encouraging collaboration at a regional level.

The introduction of the Housing Act 2004 and the

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety

Order) has imposed an analogous duty on two statutory

authorities to enforce certain fire safety provisions within

such housing. 1

To promote the efficient use of resources, this protocol

will identify discrete areas of inspection and enforcement,

appropriate review and monitoring arrangements and

provide for urgent or complex requests for assistance

from either party. It seeks to provide all parties, as far as is

reasonable practicable, with a measure of confidence that

they are discharging their respective duties under legislation.

Fire and Rescue Authorities have a legal duty to enforce

the Fire Safety Order in the common areas of all residential

accommodation not forming a single private dwelling. 2

They acknowledge that the fire safety standards required

by Local Housing Authorities under the Housing Act 2004

will, in other than exceptional cases, achieve a similar level

of fire safety for relevant persons as required under the Fire

Safety Order.

Conversely, Local Housing Authorities are responsible

for implementing the various licensing requirements of

the Housing Act 2004 and utilising the Housing Health

and Safety Rating System to identify and if necessary act

upon, significant hazards found within all housing. They

acknowledge that Fire and Rescue Authorities will monitor

and enforce fire safety standards, in areas where they have

legislative control, to a similar standard, in premises identified

in Section 3 of this protocol. Fire and Rescue Authorities

undertake to inform Local Housing Authorities of any serious

non-fire matters that they encounter and identify.

Both authorities utilise a risk based enforcement approach

and it is recognised that some housing providers, such

as owners, landlords or managing agents, may not have

sufficient competencies to undertake such risk assessments.

In general, Local Housing Authorities undertake a risk

assessment utilising the Housing Health and Safety

Rating System whilst Fire and Rescue Authorities expect

the responsible person, usually the housing provider, to

undertake a risk assessment.

1 A summary of the respective legislation is available as Appendix A

2 The Fire Safety Order applies to all parts of an HMO when prohibition action under Article 31 is taken

housing – fire safety 63


These collaborative working arrangements, which support

the Government’s broader agenda for partnership

working, will enable both Authorities to promote fire and

certain other safety provisions within a broader range of

premises than would have been possible if they had acted

independently or undertaken joint inspections.

Nothing in this agreement shall be considered as creating

a contractual relationship, a contract of employment or a

relationship of principal and agent between the parties and

shall not add to in any way the existing statutory duties

of the parties. No party to this agreement shall hold itself

out as being authorised to enter any contract on behalf

of any other party or in any way bind any other party to

the performance, variation, release or discharge of any

obligation otherwise than in circumstances expressly or

implicitly permitted by this agreement.

The signatories to this protocol are shown in Appendix B.

1. The underlying principles of this protocol are as

follows:

• To ensure appropriate standards of fire and other

safety provisions are provided and maintained in

residential premises

• To develop data sharing arrangements, through

established paths and in accordance with Section 8

of this protocol

• To assist landlords and other providers to understand

the legal framework which they operate under

• To encourage opportunities for offering joint

training and awareness sessions

• To recognise the needs and limitations of Fire and

Rescue Authorities and Local Housing Authorities

and to acknowledge that both authorities will

always seek to act in good faith

2. Which authority should take the lead enforcing

role for fire safety?

The table below lists the Authority that will normally

take the lead in inspection and enforcement action in

different types of property.

1 Single dwellings, including shared housing, (Fire

risk assessment not required)

LHA

3 All self contained flats, whether purpose built or

converted

LHA

4 Premises with mixed commercial and associated

residential accommodation and sheltered housing

FRA

5 Hostels 3 /B&B/Hotels FRA

6 All multiple-occupied accommodation that is

owned or managed by the LHA

This table provides a general guide – it cannot cover

every possible situation and certain premises will fall

under more than one category. Negotiations to take

account of local residential stock may be necessary.

Enforcing authorities may wish to consider the

opportunities afforded by The Local Government Act

1972 Section 101 in appropriate cases.

FRA

Nevertheless, Fire and Rescue Authorities are under an

obligation to reduce fire deaths in line with their risk based

enforcement polices and will undertake planned proactive

inspections in any identified type of premises or in a

particular locality as they deem necessary. Prior to starting

any such series of inspection programmes, consultation

should take place to ensure that duplication of inspection

and enforcement does not occur. Any such programmes

may, subject to local agreement take place individually,

collaboratively or jointly and should complement the

inspection programme of the Local Housing Authority.

Where necessary emergency action will be taken by

either authority to reduce any immediate risk but further

remedial enforcement will only be undertaken following

consultation with the designated lead authority. Nothing

in this protocol will prevent either authority undertaking

specific individual monitoring or enforcement action if

appropriate.

The legislative position and the provision and

management of supported housing is complex and

outside the scope of this protocol.

2 All House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) whether

or not subject to mandatory, selective or additional

licensing

LHA

3. What will Local Housing Authorities do?

Local Housing Authorities will undertake, in line with

their statutory requirements, monitoring and inspection

of premises identified in Section 2 of this protocol.

3 Hostels generally have a requirement for the residents to have a particular need or dependency and do not provide permanent accomodation

64

housing – fire safety


They will enforce fire safety standards in accordance with

the provisions of the Housing Act 2004, having regard

to relevant documents published by the Government

including the statutory operating and enforcement

guidance on the Housing Health and Safety Rating

System and in accordance with any guidance jointly

agreed with the Fire and Rescue Authority.

Local Housing Authorities will, when taking

enforcement action under the Housing Act 2004, have

regard to the principles and requirements of the Fire

Safety Order.

Although Local Housing Authorities may offer

a suitable means of complying with fire safety

requirements, they will also;

• Ensure that guidance for landlords of relevant multi

occupied properties on undertaking their own risk

assessments in accordance with the Fire Safety Order

accompanies all statutory notices

• Ensure that the owner/landlord is afforded in writing

the opportunity to bring forward alternative means

of complying with the fire safety requirements in

accordance with their own fire risk assessment. In

most cases it is expected that this will be discussed

with the owner/landlord prior to the service of any

statutory notice

• Where such alternatives are brought forward by the

owner/landlord, the Local Housing Authority will

consult with the Fire and Rescue Authority

They will undertake consultation with Fire and Rescue

Authorities in line with the criteria detailed in Section

5 of this protocol.

They will provide Fire and Rescue Authorities with

relevant, timely and comprehensive data in an agreed

format to enable those authorities to maintain

adequate property and risk based data sets.

Local Housing Authorities will consider the use of

the full range of powers under the Housing Act

2004, including Emergency Prohibition Orders, where

appropriate.

Local Housing Authorities will provide Fire and Rescue

Authorities with suitable out of hours contact details

for their homelessness unit so that where appropriate

consideration is given to ensure vulnerable persons

are not left homeless as a result of emergency

enforcement action.

4. What will Fire and Rescue Authorities do?

Fire and Rescue Authorities will undertake, in line with

their risk-based policies, monitoring and inspection of

premises identified in Section 2 of this protocol which

fall under the scope of the Fire Safety Order.

They will enforce fire safety standards in accordance

with the Fire Safety Order, having regard to relevant

documents published by the Government including, Fire

Safety Risk Assessment: Sleeping Accommodation (ISBN

1851128174) and in accordance with any guidance

jointly agreed with the Local Housing Authority.

They will undertake consultation with Local Housing

Authorities in line with the criteria detailed in Section

5 of this protocol.

They will provide Local Housing Authorities with

relevant, timely and comprehensive data to enable

those authorities to maintain adequate property and

risk-based data sets.

They will provide Local Housing Authorities with

information, within their scope of competency, of

serious matters that may need to be addressed by

those authorities. (This may include such information

as apparent overcrowding, poor management or

unsafe practises by tenants).

Fire and Rescue Authorities will undertake to inform

Local Housing Authorities of any significant fire incident

within premises covered by this protocol.

Fire and Rescue Authorities are emergency

organisations which provide twenty-four hour cover.

Information about dangerous fire safety conditions

may come via complaints or post incident and may

occur outside normal working hours. Fire and Rescue

Authorities are under an obligation to take action in

such situations. Where possible, and especially outside

of normal office hours, efforts will be made to mitigate

the dangerous conditions and Local Housing Authorities

will be informed as soon as practicably possible.

Fire and Rescue Services would, in principle, be willing

to support Local Housing Authorities at Residential

Property Tribunal hearings by offering professional

opinion on fire safety matters.

5. Consultation

Formal consultation between authorities should take

place in accordance with the requirements of the

Housing Act 2004 Section 10 and the Regulatory

Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Article 46.

housing – fire safety 65


Arrangements should be put in place to facilitate the

following:

Strategic level consultation

Formal meetings at strategic management level

to review procedural and policy issues. This group

should also monitor the outcomes of the protocol

and should meet at least every 6 months.

Tactical level consultation

Emergency situations – Consultation between

Local Housing Officer and Local Fire Officer. (Where

possible this should be between an identified and

named link officer from each authority).

Non-emergency (such as proposals for inspection

programs) – Discussions between named link

officers, and where appropriate referred to strategic

meetings.

Individual consultation

If a scheme of works for an individual property is

in compliance with legislative requirements and

any jointly agreed guidance then consultation

can be deemed to have taken place. Depending

on circumstances and the complexity of the

requirements, written consultation may not always

be necessary. Where alternatives to schemes are

offered or problematic/non-standard premises are

involved, full consultation should take place.

Where necessary, in complex premises, joint

inspections may be undertaken to agree a suitable

standard prior to the taking of enforcement action

by the most appropriate authority.

Authority will establish local communication channels

to exchange data.

Local Housing Authorities will provide data in an

agreed format to Fire and Rescue Authorities about

residential premises. This will enable Fire and Rescue

Authorities to populate their premises databases.

Subsequently, Local Housing Authorities and Fire and

Rescue Authorities will provide six monthly updates of

this data.

Both authorities will ensure that the information is

marked as confidential and will not disclose it to

other organisations without consent. Authorities will

not use or disclose information supplied pursuant

to this protocol without consulting the originating

authority. All information whether held on manual

files or computer/digital media will be disposed of as

confidential waste.

Suggestions as to the scope and detail of this data are

given in Appendix C.

9. Approval

The protocol will be approved and endorsed at a

suitable strategic management level by both the Local

Housing Authority and the relevant Fire and Rescue

Authority.

Consultation should take place on a sub-regional basis

with appropriate Private Sector Housing Groups.

6. Communication

Local communication channels will be established

between each Fire and Rescue Authority and the

respective Local Housing Authority.

Each authority undertakes, so far as they are able,

to provide the other with assistance and information

about their respective legislation to promote mutual

understanding and efficient working.

7. Monitoring and evaluation

Any changes to this protocol, other than minor

administrative changes, will be subject to approval at

strategic level and the signatories to the protocol.

An annual report will be produced jointly by parties to

the protocol.

8. Data Exchange

Each Local Housing Authority and Fire and Rescue

66

housing – fire safety


Appendix A

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety

Order) requires responsible persons to undertake a fire risk

assessment to identify the general fire precautions they

need to take to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable,

the safety of relevant persons from fire.

Having identified the general fire precautions necessary,

the responsible person must implement them. Where

five or more persons are employed or any form of licence

or certification applies to the use of the premises, the

significant findings of the fire risk assessment must be

recorded.

The responsible person is identified as, the employer, the

occupier or the owner as far as their control extends.

In premises covered by this protocol which are not

workplaces, the landlord or managing agent is likely to be

the responsible person. Tenants must cooperate with the

responsible person.

In most cases the local fire and rescue authority are charged

with a duty to enforce the Fire Safety Order and have a

range of enforcement options, from education and advice,

through agreed action plans to formal enforcement notices

and prohibition notices. Failure to comply with the Fire

Safety Order may constitute a criminal offence.

In general, the Fire Safety Order applies to all areas of

premises except those areas occupied as private domestic

dwellings. Where there are areas used in common by the

occupants of more than one such dwelling, the Fire Safety

Order applies.

The Housing Act 2004

The Housing Act 2004 includes the requirement for local

authorities to review housing conditions within their area

with a view to identifying any action that may need to

be taken about those conditions under the provisions

contained within the Act.

In relation to this, Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 replaces

the existing housing fitness standard with an evidence

based risk assessment procedure called the Housing Health

and Safety Rating System.

The rating and category of hazard are used to inform

decisions about what type of enforcement action a local

authority may need to take in relation to the hazard. The

types of enforcement action which are available to local

authorities are outlined in the Act and include improvement

notices, prohibition orders, hazard awareness notices,

emergency remedial action, emergency prohibition orders,

demolition orders, and slum clearance declarations.

‘Fire’ is one of the categories of hazard which is assessed

under the system. It includes threats from exposure to

uncontrolled fire and associated smoke at a dwelling.

Where a local authority has identified a prescribed fire

hazard in a House in Multiple Occupation or in any

common parts of a building containing one or more flats

and intend to take enforcement action, the Act requires

the local authority to consult the Fire and Rescue Authority

for the area in which the House in Multiple Occupation or

building is situated.

In the event of the authority proposing to carry out

emergency measures the duty to consult the Fire and

Rescue Authority is a duty so far as it is practicable before

carrying out those emergency measures.

Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 introduces a licensing

scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The

Act introduces three types of licensing scheme which local

authorities can use. These are mandatory HMO licensing,

additional HMO licensing of properties not covered by

the mandatory scheme and, under certain circumstances,

selective licensing of all private rented property within a

neighbourhood.

The Act outlines the conditions for the granting or refusal

of licences by a local authority and this includes the

suitability of a property for multiple occupation.

With regard to fire safety, this is further elaborated in

the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple

Occupation and other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions)

(England) Regulations 2006, schedule 3 of which states

that ‘appropriate fire precaution facilities and equipment

must be provided of such type number and location as is

considered necessary’.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System is used

to assess twenty nine categories of housing hazard and

to provide a rating for each hazard. A hazard rating is

indicated by a numerical score which is placed within one

of ten bands from A to J. A numerical score within bands A

to C are Category 1 hazards and scores in Bands D to J are

Category 2 hazards.

housing – fire safety 67


Appendix B

Signatories to protocol

Authority Name Signature and date

68

housing – fire safety


Appendix C

Data exchange details

Database details will vary considerably but

the following data fields are likely to be

necessary.

LA URN (unique identifier if available)

Eastings

Northings

Property number

Property name

Address Line 1

Address Line 2

Locality

Town

Postcode

Number of floors

Risk Level

Compliance level

Number of units

Licensed

Category/Type

Landlord/responsible person/Contact

Property number

Address Line 1

Address Line 2

Locality

Town

Postcode

Telephone number

housing – fire safety 69


Appendix 3: Example form for recording

significant findings from the fire

assessment (alternative formats are

acceptable)

Notes:

(1) this risk assessment record of significant findings

should refer to other plans, records or other

documents as necessary.

(2) the information in this record should assist you to

develop an emergency plan, coordinate measures with

any other ‘responsible persons’ in the building, train

any staff and inform residents.

70

housing – fire safety


GLOSSARY

Some useful fire safety terms

AFD

Automatic fire detection and warning system. A system

of interlinked smoke and heat detectors with integral or

linked alarm sounders. The AFD system is designed to

provide a reliable and constant means of detecting smoke

or fire at the earliest possible stage and to sound an audible

warning to occupiers, enabling them to escape before the

fire develops to a dangerous stage. The sophistication and

coverage of the system varies depending on risk. Design,

installation and maintenance of AFD systems for premises

covered in this guide are laid down in BS 5839: part 6,

1995.

Area of high fire risk

Room or other area which, because of its function, use

or contents, presents a greater risk of fire occurring and

developing than a standard risk room or elsewhere – for

example large kitchens, boiler rooms and large storerooms.

recognised by the Council of Registered Gas Installers as

being competent to undertake such testing, but this is

changing (see Appendix 1, paragraph A.70).

FD30 / FD30S

Purpose designed and built fire-resisting door assemblies

with a minimum fire resistance of 30 minutes. The 30 figure

indicates the door’s performance time in minutes. A letter

‘S’ after the figure denotes a requirement for smoke seals

to be fitted so as to restrict the passage of smoke, including

cold smoke. Tested to either British or European standards.

Fire risk assessment

An organised and methodical look at a premises, the

activities carried on there and the likelihood that a fire could

start and cause harm to those in and around the premises.

A requirement in premises to which the Regulatory Reform

(Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) applies.

FRA

Fire and rescue authority.

Back-up supply

See stand-by supply

Bedsit HMO

A building which has been divided into individual nonself-contained

lettings, let to unconnected individuals.

Each bedsit letting will usually comprise only one room

(sometimes more) which may contain cooking/food

preparation facilities, washing facilities and living/sleeping

space. Usually bathrooms and WCs are shared between a

number of bedsits. The actual facilities contained within

each bedsit letting will vary from property to property.

Circulation spaces

Passages, corridors, landings, hallways, lobbies and

stairways.

FSO

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. See

Appendix 1, paragraph A.51.

Final exit

The termination of an escape route from a building

giving direct access to a place of safety such as a street,

passageway, walkway or open space, and sited to ensure

that persons can disperse safely from the vicinity of the

effects of fire.

Fire-resisting door

Complete construction of door, frame, all door hardware

(and assemblies intumescent products and smoke seals where

appropriate) which has been tested to prove its fire resistance

performance to a particular standard. See FD30 above.

Competent person

A person suitably trained and experienced so as to be able

to properly examine, test and undertake any remedial

action and to present the information in a report.

Competent and registered engineer

A term used in the HMO management regulations (see

Appendix 1, paragraph A.46) to describe a person who is

competent to inspect gas installations and provide a gas

appliance test certificate. The term means an engineer

Fire test report

The documentation received from a testing house detailing

a test carried out on a particular product or construction

and the fire resistance performance achieved by the

product/construction in that test.

Flat in Multiple Occupation

A self-contained flat occupied by persons who do not form

a occupation (FMO) single household.

housing – fire safety 71


High fire risk

See ‘area of high fire risk’ above.

HMO

House in multiple occupation, as defined in section 254

of the Housing Act 2004 (see Appendix 1, paragraphs

A.33-A.38).

Intumescent strip

A strip of special material fitted around the edges of a fire door

which swells to several times its original volume when subjected

to heat. During a fire it will expand to fill the gap between the

door and the frame providing a fire, heat and smoke resistant

seal, thereby improving the door’s fire resistance.

LHA

Local housing authority.

NICEIC

National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting.

Nuisance alarms

Alarms sounding in a system not caused by a genuine fire

may result from poor system design, occupier behaviour or

a fault in the system.

Person having control

The person who receives the rack rent of the premises

(whether on his own account or as an agent or trustee of

another person) or would so receive it if the premises were

let at a rack rent (Housing Act 2004, section 263).

Person managing

The person who, being an owner or lessee of the premises:

(a) receives (whether directly or through an agent or

trustee) rents or other payments from—

(i) in the case of a house in multiple occupation,

persons who are in occupation as tenants or

licensees of parts of the premises; and

(ii) in the case of a house to which part 3 applies (see

section 79(2)), persons who are in occupation as

tenants or licensees of parts of the premises, or of

the whole of the premises; or

(b) would so receive those rents or other payments but for

having entered into an arrangement (whether in pursuance

of a court order or otherwise) with another person who is

not an owner or lessee of the premises by virtue of which

that other person receives the rents or other payments; and

includes, where those rents or other payments are received

through another person as agent or trustee, that other person.

Pictogram

A diagram conveying a message without the use of words.

Place of ultimate safety

A place outside of the building and away from it, where

people will be safe and unaffected by the fire or its effects.

Plasterboard

A board of gypsum plaster enclosed between and bonded

to two paper sheets.

Protected route

An escape route out of a building offering a degree of

protection from fire and smoke emanating from rooms

opening onto it. In premises covered by this guide it will

typically be the usual staircase, landings and hallway of

the house leading to a final exit. A protected route will

provide varying degrees of protection from fire and smoke

in accordance with risk (a 30-minute protected route, for

example, will be enclosed with construction giving 30 minutes

of fire resistance and containing 30-minute fire-resisting doors

with smoke seals (FD30S)). Lower risk premises will have

protected routes offering a lower standard.

Relevant persons

Relevant persons include anyone lawfully on the premises

and those in the vicinity of the premises who would be

affected by any fire at the premises.

Residential property tribunal (RPT)

The formal name given to a tribunal of two or three people

set up by law under the provisions of the Rent Act 1977 and

the Housing Act 2004. It is an independent decision-making

body which is completely unconnected to the parties or any

other public agency. The RPT is the tribunal which determines

appeals against any enforcement actions taken under the

Housing Act 2005. Weblink: www.rpts.gov.uk

Responsible person

The responsible person for the purposes of fire safety

provision and maintenance at residential accommodation

is the person having control, i.e. the landlord or person

managing.

Risk analysis

An exercise to determine the level of risk of suffering harm

from an activity based upon a range of criteria – see Part B.

72

housing – fire safety


Risk room

A room with a function, use or contents presenting a risk

of fire occurring and developing; typically kitchens, shared

living rooms, bedsit rooms. On risk assessment may include

bedrooms in some cases. Excludes bathrooms and WCs

containing no fire risk. See also ‘area of high fire risk’.

Room sealed appliance

A gas appliance whose combustion system is sealed from

the room in which the appliance is located and which

obtains combustion air from outside the premises, and

which also vents the products of combustion to open air

outside the premises. Most modern gas boilers are room

sealed appliances.

Self-contained flats

The meaning within this guide relates to conversion flats in

single occupation with all amenities behind the front door.

Shared house

See paragraph 35.

Significant findings

The actions to be taken as a result of a fire risk assessment

and details of anyone especially at risk. Must be recorded in

some cases (see paragraph 10.1).

Smoke seal/strip

A rubber or synthetic strip fitted around the edge of a fire

door to restrict the passage of smoke between the door

and the frame. Doors requiring a smoke seal have the

letter ‘S’ after their performance time in minutes in their

designation (for example FD30S). The smoke resistance of

the door when fitted with the strip will have been tested to

standards in BS476: part 31.1, 1983.

Storey

In this guidance, for the purposes of fire safety, when

counting the number of storeys the reader should count

all floors from the level of the final exit to the topmost

floor (include mezzanines as storeys). Where the final exit

is located on the ground floor (or raised ground floor) any

lower ground floor/basement/cellar should not be counted.

Therefore, a house with a basement, ground and two

upper floors with its entrance/final exit at ground floor level

should be counted as a three-storey house. Note: this is a

different convention to that in the HMO licensing definition

(which counts cellars/basements) as this guidance is

considering the distance of travel to the final exit as a factor

in determining fire risk.

Suitably qualified Person

See ‘competent person’.

Test report

See ‘fire test report’.

Voids

Unused empty spaces within a building.

Vulnerable group

The HHSRS Operating Guidance defines a vulnerable

group as “a range of people for whom the risk arising

from a hazard is greater than for any other group in

the population.” It is restricted to age groups, no other

vulnerability is considered. The assessment of likelihood

of an occurrence resulting in harm is assessed based on a

member of this group living in the property. For the hazard

of fire, the vulnerable group is persons over the age of 60.

The vulnerable group is only used to assess the hazard –

when it comes to enforcement decisions then the actual

person living there is considered.

Soffit

Underside of staircase, balcony, architrave or arch.

Spandrel

A vertical partition enclosing a staircase (usually found on

the ground floor enclosing a staircase to the basement, or

in the basement enclosing a staircase to the ground floor).

Stand-by supply

Battery power to fire alarm or lighting systems which cuts in

if mains power fails.

Where necessary

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires

that fire precautions should be provided (and maintained)

“where necessary”. This means those which are needed

to reasonably protect relevant persons from risks in case

of fire. This will be determined by the findings of the

risk assessment, including the preventative measures

being taken. In practice, it is very unlikely that a properly

conducted fire risk assessment, which takes into account

all the matters relevant for the safety of persons in case

of fire, will conclude that no fire precautions (including

maintenance) are necessary.

housing – fire safety 73


Bibliography

The following references are included as a source of further

detailed reading for specialists. It is not anticipated that

landlords of property covered by this guide will need an

in-depth knowledge of these publications and parts B, C

and Appendix 1 to this guide should provide an adequate

summary for most purposes.

Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments are available

from The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) and via

their website at www.opsi.gov.uk

British Standards are available from the British Standards

Institution (BSI) from their Order Helpdesk on 0845 367

0242 and via their website at www.standardsuk.com

Health and Safety Executive publications are available from

HSE books via their website at www.hsebooks.com

References

The Housing Act 2004. The Stationery Office. ISBN 0 10

543404 3.

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation

(England) Regulations 2006: Statutory Instrument 2006 No.

372

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple

Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions)

(England) Regulations 2006: Statutory Instrument 2006 no.

373

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005: Statutory

Instrument 2005 No. 1541

ISBN 0 11 072945 5

The Building Regulations 2000: Approved Document B fire

safety. ISBN 0 11 753911 2.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994,

Statutory Instrument 1994/3260.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998:

Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 2451

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations

1988 : Statutory Instrument 1988 No. 1324

Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations

1996, Statutory Instrument I 1996/341. 1996. ISBN 0 11

054093 X.

Safety Signs and Signals. The Health and Safety (Safety

Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

Guidance on regulations, L64. HSE Books, 1996. ISBN 0

7176 0870 0.

HHSRS Operating Guidance - Housing Act 2004: Guidance

about inspections and assessment of hazards given under

Section 9: ISBN 139781851128464 and 101851128468:

Communities and Local Government

www.communities.gov.uk

Housing Health and Safety Rating System: Enforcement

Guidance: Housing Act 2004 Part 1: Housing Conditions:

ISBN 139781851128471 and 101851128476: Communities

and Local Government

www.communities.gov.uk

BS EN 1154:1997: Building hardware. Controlled door

closing devices. Requirements and test methods. British

Standards Institution. ISBN 0 580 27476 4

BS 5499-4: Safety signs, including fire safety signs. Code of

practice for escape route signing.

British Standards Institution.

BS 5306-8: Fire extinguishing installations and equipment

on premises. Selection and installation of portable fire

extinguishers. Code of practice. British Standards Institution.

ISBN 0 580 33203 9.

BS 5306-3: Fire extinguishing installations and equipment

on premises. Code of practice for the inspection and

maintenance of portable fire extinguishers. British Standards

Institution.

ISBN 0 580 42865 6.

BS EN 12845: Fixed firefighting systems. Automatic

sprinkler systems. Design, installation and maintenance.

British Standards Institution. ISBN 0 580 44770 7.

74

housing – fire safety


BS 5839-6: 1995 Fire detection and alarm systems for

buildings. Code of practice for the design and installation

of fire detection and alarm systems in dwellings. British

Standards Institution.

ISBN 0 580 25104 7.

Maintaining portable electrical equipment in offices and

other low-risk environments, INDG236.

HSE Books, 1996. (ISBN 0 7176 1272 4 single copy free or

priced packs of 10.)

BS 5395-2: Stairs, ladders and walkways. Code of practice

for the design of industrial type stairs,

permanent ladders and walkways. British Standards

Institution. ISBN 0 580 14706 1.

BS 5266-8: Emergency lighting. Code of practice for

Emergency Escape lighting systems.

British Standards Institution.

BS 5266-1: Emergency lighting. Code of practice for the

emergency lighting of premises.

British Standards Institution.

BS 7974: Application of fire safety engineering principles to

the design of buildings. Code of practice.

British Standards Institution. ISBN 0 580 38447 0.

BS 476-7: Fire tests on building materials and structures.

Method of test to determine the classification of the surface

spread of flame of products. British Standards Institution.

BS EN 13501-1: Fire classification of construction products

and building elements. Classification using test data from

reaction to fire tests. British Standards Institution.

BS 5588-12: Fire precautions in the design, construction

and use of buildings. Part 12:

Managing fire safety. British Standards Institution.

BS 8220-1: Guide for security of buildings against crime.

Dwellings. British Standards Institution.

ISBN 0 580 33145 8.

BS 8214: Code of practice for fire door assemblies with

non-metallic leaves. British Standards

Institution. ISBN 0 580 18871 6.

A guide to best practice in the specification and use of fireresistant

glazed systems. Glass and

Glazing Federation, 2005.

Increasing the Fire Resistance of Existing Timber Doors,

Information Paper 8/82. BRE

Fire resisting doorsets by upgrading. Wood Information

Sheet 1-32. Timber Research and

Development Association.

BS 5266-6: Emergency lighting. Code of practice for nonelectrical

low mounted way guidance

systems for emergency use. Photoluminescent systems.

British Standards Institution.

LPS 1048-1 : Requirements for the approval of Sprinkler

System Contractors in the UK and Eire. SD 1048-1 : BRE

Certification Limited, Bucknalls Lane, Garston, Watford,

WD25 9XX. Telephone: 01923 664100. Website: www.bre.

co.uk

LPC rules for automatic sprinkler installations, incorporating

BS EN. The Fire Protection Association.

BS EN 1634-1: Fire resistance tests for door and shutter

assemblies. Fire doors and shutters.

British Standards Institution. ISBN 0 580 32429 X.

BS 476-22: Fire tests on building materials and structures.

Methods for determination of the fire resistance of nonloadbearing

elements of construction. British Standards

Institution.

ISBN 0 580 15872 1.

housing – fire safety 75


Further acknowledgements

Gratitude is also owed to the following people who made

up the project steering group and provided invaluable

support for the project:

Andrew Chadney, London Fire and Rescue Authority

Andy Kippax, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Brian Martin, Communities and Local Government

Elizabeth Brogan, National Landlords Association

Neil Coles, London Borough of Newham

Paul Dryden, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Richard Drew, Westminster City Council

Richard Tacagni, LACORS

Rhian Blackman, Communities and Local Government

Tony Agar, London Fire and Rescue Authority

Lastly, LACORS thanks the following who contributed

via the consultation process:

Andrew Jones

Association Of Residential Managing Agents

Avon Fire and Rescue Service

Barrow Borough Council

Bedford Borough Council

Berkshire Housing Group

Brighton & Hove City Council

Bristol City Council

British Property Federation

Broxtowe Borough Council

Camden Borough Council

Carlisle City Council

Cornwall Housing Sub Group

Cumbria Local Authorities

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority

Devon Chief Officers Housing Group

Dover District Council

East London sub-regional Housing Group

East Staffordshire Borough Council

Eastbourne Borough Council

Electrical Contractors Association

Elmbridge Borough Council

Epping Forest Borough Council

Essex Fire and Rescue Authority

Fire and Security Association

Fire Industry Association Ltd

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Greater Manchester Local Authorities

Harlow Council

Hart Borough Council

Hastings Borough Council

Herefordshire Council

Herts & Beds Housing Group

Homestamp

Humber sub-region Local Authorities & Fire and Rescue

Authority

Kent Local Authorities

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Authority

Lincoln City Council

London HMO Regulatory Group

Merseyside Local Authorities and Fire and Rescue Authority

Newcastle City Council

National Federation of Residential Landlords

North Yorkshire Local Authorities

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority

Oxfordshire Local Authorities

Peter Freeman Properties, Sheffield

Peterborough City Council

PJ Properties, Sheffield

Plymouth City Council

Residential Landlords Association

Rex Caplan, Landlord

Richard Clark

Richard Jones of Bury & Walkers Solicitors

Rushmoor Borough Council

Salisbury District Council

Sheffield & District Landlord Association

Sheffield City Council

Sheffield Student Landlord Association

South Yorkshire Local Authorities

Southampton City Council

Staffordshire Housing Technical Group

Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Authority

UNIPOL

University Of Essex

Watford Borough Council

West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority

West of England Local Authorities

Westminster City Council

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority

76

housing – fire safety


Published by:

Local Government House

Smith Square

London SW1P 3HZ

Website: www.lacors.gov.uk

Telephone: 020 7665 3888

Fax: 020 7665 3887

Any comments or enquiries should

be addressed to LACORS at

housing@lacors.gov.uk

ISBN 978-1-84049-638-3

Printed by: Newman Thomson Ltd,

1 Jubilee Road, Burgess Hill, West Sussex,

RH15 9TL

Photographs: Third Avenue

Designed by: Liberata Design Studio

All rights reserved. No part of this publication

may be reproduced in any form or by any

means, mechanical, photocopying, recording or

otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system of

any nature, without the prior permission of the

copyright holder.

© LACORS August 2008

Price £20

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